Hello and welcome to my recurring new column entitled “That 70’s Guy”. With each article, I will resurrect and review a “Forgotten Gems” of the 1970’s. I am blessed to be part of the Decibel Geek team and given the opportunity to express my thoughts and feelings of the music I love. I’ve been a staff photographer for a few years now with a couple reviews thrown in here and there. However, being one of the elder statesmen of the staff I thought it would be a good time to dust off some of those old, unknown (to most), buried 70’s treasures and let them see the light of day once again – even if for a brief fleeting moment. I grew up in the decade of love and have since amassed thousands of vinyl albums and 45 RPMs. Not to mention the stories that went along with them. Of course, the depth of Canadian content will be of high priority once we get rolling.
Without further ado let’s get the show on the road. I hope you enjoy.
In the summer of 1977, my buddies and I came across a song called “Who’s Your Boyfriend” by a band called Piper featuring a very young and at the time, unknown singer named Billy Squier. Well if that song wasn’t one of the greatest things I heard I don’t know what was. As power pop and light as it may sound today it is still high on my all-time favorite songs list. While that song and the first Piper album got us through summer, their second release, Can’t Wait, I obtained in winter 1977 really got me hooked on what I call still to this day one of my desert island classics.
The band consisted of Billy Squier on vocals and guitar, Alan Nolan and Tommy Gunn on guitars, Richie Fontana on drums and Danny McGary on bass.
Circus magazine once called their debut album “the greatest debut album ever produced by a US rock band”. The band was managed by the same company as KISS and they opened up for them on their 1977 Alive II tour. There were high hopes for this young band.
Can’t Wait is the 2nd album from Boston’s Piper released on A&M Records in 1977.
- “Can’t Wait” – a magical little gem that sets the tone for the whole album. Squier’s vocals are perfect. This was the first single from the album. Such great memories! It’s about as catchy as a song can get.
- “Drop By and Stay” – an awesome follow-up to the title track. A great riff and quirky chorus gets me singing and toe tapping every time. Could’ve and should’ve been a big hit.
- “See Me Through” – a song that still gives me goosebumps. Is it the memories of a time gone by creeping back in or is it just a fantastic song? Probably my favorite of the bunch. Nice guitar work here as well.
- “Little Miss Intent” – OK here’s the heavy side of Piper which is actually a good rocking song with a great solo! This one got taped and re-taped on Memorex for a many road trips back in the day.
- “Now Ain’t the Time” – time to slow things down and showcase Billy’s voice. A party favorite when the lights were down and an opportunity to slow dance.
- “Bad Boy” – Side 2 starts with this good little fast rocking song! I always loved the guitar riff and the killer chorus.
- “Comin’ Down Off Your Love” – another fast-paced rocker that really mirrors the 70’s sound of REO Speedwagon. Some decent dual guitar work here.
- “Anyday” –time to slow it down again. Lots of background vocals that was a staple of the time. If I had to pick a least fave it would probably be this song.
- “Blues for the Common Man” – the album finishes off with a great display of drumming from Fontana.
One thing you have to understand is that this album came out right at the height of the disco invasion. Saturday Night Fever was taking over the world so the few rock albums that snuck through the radar like this were so refreshing and it allowed me to remain defiant and stay within my little solitude of rock. Listening back I can really understand why Squier became so successful. Like him or not his voice is pure and really shines in these early days of his career. The perfect frontman.
Piper complimented many similar American bands at the time. The likes of The Baby’s, Starz, Cheap Trick, Fotomaker, Foreigner, Heart, Styx, REO, and Kansas were keeping the barely lit area rock flame alive back in the winter of 77-78. I spent countless hours listening to albums in my boy-cave and Piper had a huge influence in my life and I thank them for that.
After 2 albums the high expectations and the dream that once was Piper had ended. Squier went solo with his first album having a re-recorded version of “Who’s Your Boyfriend” on it. Shortly after that in 1981, the whole musical world got “stroked” and the rest is history. Although I never had the chance of seeing Piper live I did manage to catch Billy on his Don’t Say No tour when he opened up for Foreigner during their Foreigner 4 tour in November 1981 at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto.
Although Piper never achieved the “Arena Rock” title that they desired but I believe they may have played a small part in the term “Melodic Rock” before that phrase was ever coined. I continually return to this album and relive those days gone by. I remember that old Olympic turntable in my parent’s basement rec room blasting out the tunes of Piper’s new album like it was yesterday.
Whether it was a bush party, school dance or a roller rink, I found myself frequently asking that question – “Who’s Your Boyfriend”?
Brian “That 70’s Guy” Ronald