80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Payola$

payolasThe Payola$ stormed the Canadian music scene from the west coast hotbed of Vancouver, British Columbia. Founded by Paul Hyde (vocals) and Bob Rock (guitars), the duo became friends in high school and shared a passion for punk rock. They hooked up with drummer Taylor Nelson and sax/bass player Gary Middleclass to record their first single “China Boys” released in 1979.

 A&M records courted the Payola$ based on their local popularity, and offered them a chance to record a 4-song EP. This collection was released as Introducing Payola$ and inlcuded a rerecorded version of “China Boys,” along with “Jukebox,” “Rose,” and “T.N.T.”

 As is the case with many bands, Payola$ went through several line-up changes during the 80’s, with the core members Rock and Hyde as the common denominator. The band’s first full-length LP was produced by Mick Ronson. Titled No Stranger To Danger, the band used its punk roots in combination with reggae, pop, and New Wave to create a fantastic playlist, earning them a Juno and a hit with the single “Eyes of a Stranger.”

 Payola$ and Ronson teamed up again in 1983 to release a well-received album called Hammer On A Drum. The band received well-deserved accolades for this sophomore effort, with four songs released as singles: “Where Is This Love,” “I’ll Find Another,” “Never Said I Loved You” (feat. Carole Pope of Rough Trade), and “Christmas Is Coming.” With such outstanding talent and proof of their capabilities, the band remained wildly popular in Canada, yet relatively unknown in the US.

 Part of the problem, the story goes, was the name the band had chosen. The “Payola Scandals” in the US music industry during the 60’s was still fresh in the minds of both the musicians it hurt, and the people prosecuted because of it. Another fantastic band, The Comsat Angels from Sheffield, UK, took a major hit here in the states, again because of an unlucky choice of name. That many of us here were denied great music over such a trivial matter really irritates me beyond words.payolasa

 In 1985, the band decided to re-brand itself as Paul Hyde and the Payolas. They released an album called Here’s The World For Ya, again spawning four solid singles, one of which, “You’re the Only Love,” managed to break into the US top 100.

 The band tried one more renaming as Rock and Hyde. Using this moniker, Under the Volcano came to light which proved a great success once again, in Canada. Two hit singles were the result of this effort with one, “Dirty Water,” charting in the US. That is my personal favorite. It is a beautifully sung and orchestrated tune that is somewhat anthem-like and haunting all at the same time. David Marsden plays it occasionally on his show and it really rocks my world.

 If you’re not familiar with Payola$, it is well worth the time to look into their brilliant yet criminally underrated music career starting with their punk roots in the late 70’s and throughout all of the 80’s. Redefining and renaming, they struggled hard while attempting to break into the elusive US market. Their loss in not attaining this goal was an even bigger loss for the US.

 “China Boys” via YouTube user justmefilm:

 “Eyes of a Stranger” via YouTube user ValorOfSoul:

 “Where Is This Love” via YouTube user kurdtss:

 “Dirty Water” by Rock & Hyde via YouTube user kurdtss:


 Purchase Payola$ and Rock & Hyde here and here.

Payolas1Introducing Payola$, (four-song EP), Payolas, A&M , 1980




Payolas2In a Place Like This,
 Payolas, A&M, 1981



payolas3No Stranger To Danger
, Payolas, A&M, 1982






Payolas4Hammer on a Drum, Payolas, A&M, 1983




Payolas5Here’s the World for Ya
, Paul Hyde and the Payolas, A&M, 1985




payolas6Under the Volcano
, Rock and Hyde, Capitol/EMI, 1987





Payolas7Langford Part One
, (seven-song EP), Payolas, EMI, July 17, 2007

8 thoughts on “80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Payola$

  1. I am sure Bob Rock didn’y mind not making it big as performer. He has made so much more money producing!


  2. It always does my heart good to know that musicians overcame obstacles to become successful – even if it means changing roles. Glad to hear that Bob Rock was able to put his talents to good use in other areas!

    MissP xo


  3. Great to read more about the history of Payola$. I did a bit of a blurb about Rock & Hyde on my blog last year because of my love for the song ‘Dirty Water’. I only had a second hand copy on vinyl for years before I came across a series of CDs called ‘Pure Canadian: Retro 80s’. I was bowled over to find ‘Dirty Water’ on the track listing. I completely agree with your summation of the song.
    Many thanks for another great post MissP 🙂


  4. Hello A.FOS!

    So glad to hear you found a copy of “Dirty Water” – it totally rocks! I just wish they hadn’t made so light of it in the video – it really lessens the impact of the words.

    Thank you for your comment – always great to see friends from Down Under. 🙂

    All the best and Hugs,


  5. This isnt exactly a hot topic, but I stumbled across this article and wanted to add my $0.02 worth. I have to agree that The Payolas are one of the most under-rated bands, and not just of the 80s. Side one of No Stranger To Danger is as strong an album side as anything produced by anyone. That may seem like hyperbole for a band that most people have never heard of, but once you have given it a listen you may find it hard to disagree. Stylistically the band is reminiscent of the Police of the same vintage. An incredibly appealing mix of punk, raggae and pop, each of the five songs on side one is delivered with an authority that is really unbelievable considering this was their second album. Every song is distinct musically and yet still recognizable as coming from the same band. The stories told by Paul Hyde’s lyrics are incredibly personal and cover situations, themes and locations that are instantly recognizable. The hit “Eyes of a Stranger” can be compared favourably to any single ever released. It has a catchy hook, a simple yet distinct beat, paranoid lyrics all wrapped up in a mysterious funky groove. “Hastings Street” is scarily accurate in its depiction of living on the wrong side of the tracks. “Some Old Song” nails the pitfalls dating local boy rock star wannabes. Nostalgia for a time when love and life was simpler, the opening track “Romance” ticks off all the requisite boxes. Plus it opens the side with the right amount of energy and promise to make you want to keep listening. My personal favorite of the five songs though is “Rose” which give “Roxanne” a run for its money for greatest song ever written about a unrequited love for a lady of the evening.

    Do yourself a favour and search out a copy of No Stranger To Danger. Chances are once you’ve given it a listen you will start searching out the rest of the Payolas’ releases. The rest of their releases are a bit more of a mixed bag (except Hammer on a Drum which is also pretty solid), but every album has at least a couple of outstanding tracks.


  6. 😮 well surprise, surprise. I certainly didn’t expect anyone to read it this quckly. I haven’t had a chance to read anything else here, but I’ve bookmarked it for when I have a bit of time since I lived through the eighties and remember fondly working in record stores and DJing back then.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I look forward to hearing more from you. Lesser known music from the 80s is certainly a passion of mine, and it’s always nice to hear from like-minded people. Cheers!


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