Trouble in the Camera Club: A Photographic Narrative Of Toronto's Punk History 1976?1980

Paperback | May 1, 2011

byDon Pyle

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Brimming with nostalgia for one of the few major music movements of the last 30 years, this visual journey through punk history lays witness to the high-water mark of a golden era in music. In 1977, before he entered on to the punk scene himself, Don Pyle bought a 35 mm camera and began photographing some of the earliest gigs of Toronto punk acts and other visiting punk artists. His trial-and-error education in photography resulted in this collection of images that document the early history of punk rock in Toronto and its influence on the local music scene, from the point of view of an awestruck fan. Influential punk musicians such as the Ramones, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, and The Clash, as well as Toronto bands such as The Viletones, Teenage Head, and The Curse, are captured at their creative prime, on the forefront of a musical revolution. The original scratched, water-marked negatives have been completely restored and together with authentic ephemera reveal a significant yet underrepresented period in Toronto’s musical cultural development.

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Brimming with nostalgia for one of the few major music movements of the last 30 years, this visual journey through punk history lays witness to the high-water mark of a golden era in music. In 1977, before he entered on to the punk scene himself, Don Pyle bought a 35 mm camera and began photographing some of the earliest gigs of Toront...

Don Pyle is a musician and a producer who has released 12 albums, created music for films and television, and produced recordings for other artists. For 11 years, he was a member of the Juno Award-winning band Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. Steven Leckie was the lead vocalist and a founding member of the Canadian punk rock group The ...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 10 × 8 × 0.7 inPublished:May 1, 2011Publisher:ECW PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1550229664

ISBN - 13:9781550229660

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Despite where any of the bands represented here ended up, The Curse, Viletones, The Diodes, Teenage Head, The Dents, The Demics and so many others that came and went were shocking and nothing less than amazing. Like every scene before or since, you really had to be there for it to make sense. And being 16 or 23 was as essential an ingredient to the magic as the bands, the people, the beer or the drugs. So many people have a desire to be given a finite definition of punk, but so much is left out of the true story. Imagine a thousand embers sparking at once but all separate from each other — but of the same thing. When all those points suddenly came into awareness of each other, it became a movement, the thing that got called punk. If you were of a particular disposition, there was no need to explain the connection between Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, Milk N’ Cookies, Suzi Quatro, the Faces, Brownsville Station, and Nazi Dog or Johnny Rotten. It seems obvious in retrospect that something was being built; we just didn’t know what it would look like until it arrived and was subsequently dismantled.Canada was in its earliest days of cultural transformation from colonial outpost to whatever you might describe it as today, and few other places cared what was happening in Toronto or Vancouver. Bands from the United Kingdom would follow the historical precedence of Giovanni Caboto by adopting a stage name ( John Cabot) and come to try to conquer Canada; fortunately for us, their invasion often began and ended in Toronto. So we got to see XTC, The Slits, The Stranglers, Gang of Four and Billy Fury. It’s hard to imagine in the information age, but sometimes the only thing you might know about a non–local band was gleaned from one fuzzy black and white photo in the back pages of some cheap magazine; my attraction to them could be as simple as the font used to spell the band’s name. Some of what was so powerful about these bands’ image is what we didn’t see, with the backstory totally created by our imaginations. The Fast, or The Nerves could only be read about in Rock Scene or Trouser Press. The dearth of available photographic documentation I’m sure contributed to my impulse to take pictures. It was not until around 2000 that I even saw moving pictures of artists as famous as Velvet Underground.Toronto seemed sleepy, even though I had little to compare it to. Almost nothing was open on Sunday and on that day it would not be unusual to stand at the corner of Yonge and Bloor — the major intersection of the biggest city in Canada — and not see a single other person. Most of downtown was made up of old, low–rise Victorian–period buildings. Row houses, small businesses and pinball arcades with shooting galleries stood where there are now office towers, malls and nightclubs. Folk–club–turned–punk venue the Turning Point and vinyl retailer Round Records (the first store to carry Never Mind the Bollocks) sat on what is now the most expensive commercial real estate in Canada. You couldn’t buy a beer without buying a meal, something one club got around by selling sandwiches made out of wood. Somehow, the performance of putting something that resembled food on the table in front of you (and recyclable to the next customer!) fell within the set of ridiculous legal definitions laid out by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. But there was also beauty in the unlit laneways and side streets. Unlike today, everything was not illuminated, examined and exploited with every vacant or derelict plot built up. Unexplored and empty streets held all kinds of possibilities with darkened doorways in alleys leading to sexual adventure or an after–hours party; places to conduct forbidden activities were easy to find. The pockets of adventure had to be searched for, but vibrant life existed below the snoozy surface.

Editorial Reviews

"The sense of time flying in Don Pyle’s Trouble in the Camera Club is dizzying. It's more like time sky diving without a parachute. The crash may be only seconds away, but the sensation in the moment is amazing." —Toronto Star (May 14, 2011)