A staple of Canadian rock radio, this week on 45 Fridays we take a look at the 80’s hit by the Partland Brothers – “Soul City”.
Before, Toronto was the 6ix (nobody calls it that by the way, except real estate agents and posers) Toronto was called “Soul City”. At least that was what The Partland Brothers called it, in their 1986 hit “Soul City”. Although, Toronto is not expressly named, indeed “Soul City” could be Detroit or Chicago and that would actually make more sense but Toronto is clearly where they are referring to and more specifically Yonge Street, as is evident by the cover and the video below. The Partland Brothers themselves moved to Toronto to pursue their musical careers. So, let’s go to Yonge Street!
Now if you didn’t grow up in the 1980’s in Toronto, or in a neighbouring town, Yonge St. located in the centre of downtown Toronto was a magical place. People would flock to it from all over Ontario and it was almost a right of passage. If you can imagine, it was like the internet but in real life. Wanna play video games? Yonge Street. Wanna go look for music you have never heard of, maybe go cop that new Partland Brother’s album? Yonge Street. It was a cascade of twinkling big city lights, like a carnival. The store fronts vying for your attention, trying to entice people off the streets into its arcades, record stores, music venues, book stores, restaurants, haberdasheries and headshops. Evidently, the Partland Brothers were also moved by the electricity of its bustling city sidewalks, claiming it was “Souuuul City” and defiantly claiming that they would not be “back till the money’s all gone”? What did they spend it on? Lavish dinners at Mr. Greenjeans. Maybe they put all their quarters into Out Run at one of the local arcade parlours. Perhaps, they went to House Of Jeans and got themselves a new pair of Canadian tuxedos. Or maybe they were ripped off for fake LSD at La Maison du Croissant. What could two dudes congregating on the sidewalks of Yonge Street, looking for a good time possibly spend their money on: “Soul City that’s where we’re going and when we get back we’re going to go see the doctor (and get some shots).”
There are many burning questions besides “where did the money go”? Like “fake it with me”(what?!). Also, the hell is he saying during the bridge. It sounds like a whole lot of wishy washy close-talking. But it’s better to not ask why and just let the triumphant waves ripple over you. It sounds like a maritime pop rag, particularly in the chorus. It’s featured on Cottage Country Vol. 19, which was all about being at the office and anticipating the weekend so it may be a good listen today, being Friday. Anticipating the weekend, anticipating summer 2020, anticipating wherever your “Soul City” may be.
Bonus: Partland Brothers – Promo Sheet with Bio
My 45 vinyl copy came with a Capitol Records promo sheet, with photo and bio. I’ve included a transcription of the promo sheet. Some pretty, funny questionable stuff in here.
“Born in a small rural community just north of Toronto and raised in a close family environment, Chris and G.P. Partland bring their rural roots and values to their music. Blending the haunting moods of Rhythm and Blues with Soul and the compelling beat of Rock N Roll, Partland has developed a new sound which is distinctively their own. Attempts to categorize them will surely fail as their original songs and music provide a fresh new focus for their audience.
They moved to Toronto where opportunity was greater to realize their lifelong dreams of becoming professional musicians . In the mid -70’s Chris formed his first band, Rolling Thunder. Joined by brother G.P. in 1979, Oliver Heavyside was born and became a potent force on the local rock scene. Their success culminated in their winning the local Q107 Homegrown contest in 1983. Oliver Heavyside went on to become one of Ontario’s most sought after acts, playing throughout Ontario and the United States, all the while providing the stage for Partland Brothers to perfect their unique musical style.
In 1984 the brothers were approached by Jim Martin, long-time member of the management group of Burton Cummings and the Guess Who, while playing in a local hotel. They were offered the benefit of his knowledge and experience in an effort to obtain a recording contract. In February ’85, their demo tape came to the attention of Capitol Records. They were signed to a contract with Their first album “Electric Honey”, which was just released on October 22nd 1986.
Capitol has hailed Partland Brothers as a major new discovery in an increasing line of Canadian talent. Acquiring the services of Vini Poncia, whose credits include production of the likes of Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Melissa Manchester and Kiss, to oversee the first album and such songs as “Soul City”, “The Reason”, “Electric Honey”, “This Ones’s For You” and “Walk With Me” promise to take the music charts by storm, firmly establishing Partland Brothers as one of the most successful new bands to emerge in the music industry.
The compelling arrangements, optimistic lyrics and haunting rhythms of Chris are powerfully complemented by the high-energy vocals and exciting visual charisma of G.P. to immerse the audience and the performers into a vibrant experience. The hard-driving rhythms of songs such as “That’s the Way It Will Be” and “Best Love” changes to the thoughful and soul-searching melodies of “The Reason” and “Soul City” without loss of the intense energy which is characteristic of Partland Brothers’ sound.
They are presently rehearsing with their newly formed band and plan to be on the road and with a major tour in the Fall of ’86, to leave their indelible mark on all who hear their music. Partland Brothers to date, have only showcased their new material and new band at Toronto’s Copa, spurring Liz Braun of the Toronto Sun to headline her review: “Positive First Impression – The Partland Brothers zap Copa”. Reaction from radios also proving to be very positive and stations already playing “Soul City” include CKLG, CHED, CKXL, AM106, CFRW, CFTR, CKPT, CKLC, CHYM, CFGO, CJCH, CFOX, KIK CJAY, KX96, CHTZ, CHUM-FM, Q-107, CFPL, CHEZ, OZ-FM, CFMI, CKNG and C-100.
They’re forceful lyrics, love of music and distinct style coupled with their dedication to perfection, promise to keep Partland Brothers. Very much in the forefront of the industry In the years to comeThey’re powerful intensity and unswerving sense of purpose_Is their unlimited potential. Only the extent of their dreams can limit their aspirations and success.
[Unknown writer]. November 1986“