80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Pukka Orchestra

PO

(Exciting updates: Have heard from Tony Duggan-Smith [see comments] – he and Neil Chapman are performing with Steve Heathcote, Matt Horner, Glenn Olive, and Russell Walker in a band called Autocondo. Check out the YouTube link below and look for their new CD!

Also, Tony added this historical fact: “As a historical note: The Pukka’s received the 1985 CASBY Award for ‘Most Promising Group’ but for some reason this seems to have slipped through the cracks of internet history.
Neil and I were both at the awards and Graeme had just fallen  ill in Scotland. We were shocked when we won and In classic canadian style, the night ended with my walking home in the rain with the CASBY under my coat. The limo’s parked outside the Hall were for the record execs only!  Funny old world isn’t it!”)

This entry is a delight to write – not only does it entail the description of a criminally underrated-yet-gifted 80’s band, they are also from Toronto which is where much of my favorite 80’s music originated.

 Pukka Orchestra – now that’s a mouthful! All of the visions the name conjures up – exotic, big sound, foreign rhythms and influences – simply are not true. Just a superbly talented trio that had the capability of making their mark in a burgeoning world of music, but couldn’t due to mitigating outside forces.

 The mainstay core of the short-lived group was made up of Tony Duggan-Smith (guitar), Neil Chapman (guitar), and Graeme Williamson (singer/songwriter). The band originally formed in Toronto in 1979, releasing “Rubber Girl” in 1981, and their one and only album, “Self-Titled,” in 1984. This collection is a brilliant assembly of tunes that include critically acclaimed “Cherry Beach Express,” “Rubber Girl,” “Listen to the Radio,” and “Your Secret Is Safe With Me.”PO_a

 After releasing the album, Williamson became ill with kidney problems and the group disbanded. After about a year, Williamson was able to recover from his ailment and move back to Toronto from Scotland by receiving a kidney transplant. He briefly rejoined Pukka Orchestra in an attempt to release a second LP in 1988. For whatever reasons, the reunion failed and the album was scrapped.

 Neil Chapman continues to perform to this day in and around the TO area. DJ David Marsden frequently gives Pukka Orchestra songs airplay on his weekly show (Thurs. and Fri. nights, 7 pm-midnight Eastern) from 94.9 The Rock out of Oshawa, ON. Whenever I hear “Might As Well Be On Mars,” I have to stop what I am doing to become completely absorbed emotionally into it. Don’t let the cheesy video fool you – this is one very powerful song, both musically and lyrically.

 Unfortunately, even finding information on them is a challenge. Wikipedia has a short blurb along with a discography. And then there’s the Official Pukka Orchestra (http://pukkaorchestra.com/) web page that brings the reader a bit more insight into this enormously gifted band. I was able to dig up only two examples of their music on video:

 “Listen to the Radio” via YouTube user kurdtss:

“Might As Well Be On Mars” via YouTube user kurdtss:

 If you care to experience an important part of the Canadian post-punk scene, download what’s available from Pukka Orchestra at Amazon for a reasonable cost. It’s definitely worth it.

Update: New video from Autocondo consisting of Tony Duggan-Smith, Neil Chapman, Steve Heathcote, Matt Horner, Glenn Olive, and Russell Walker. Purchase Autocondo here.

“Paralyzed” by Autocondo via YouTube user autocondo:

  Discography

 Purchase Pukka Orchestra here.   

po_1Self-Titled (released in 1984)
 

 
PO-2The Place of Memory (EP released 1986)

PO_3Dear Harry (released in 1992)

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23 thoughts on “80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Pukka Orchestra

  1. Heya ((((fifty))))

    Names can be deceiving. The band did have a large assortment of guest musicians moving in and out of it for touring and recording purposes, so in a way, the “orchestra” part fits. I’m so happy to hear you know of Cherry Beach Express. 🙂

    Cheers!
    missP
    xo

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  2. I lived near Cherry Beach, we always tried to avoid the “Cherry beach Express”. Hmmm may have to play that one soon.

    Ed

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  3. Just so you know we are still all alive! Graeme was just here in Toronto for a few days too.
    Neil and I along with Russ Walker (plus lyrical input from Graeme) have a new cd out. It is called AUTOCONDO and anyone interested in the Pukkas should check it out. You can even find a video on youtube of the song ‘paralyzed’.

    There a couple of other videos fro Pukka that will be on youtube soon. You can see low rez versions on the pukka site mentioned above.
    Graeme has been busy writing great books in Scotland so support his creativity and pick one up!
    We still love to write and play and the spirit of Pukka is very much alive.
    Bye for now

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  4. Dear Tony,

    Thank you so much for your update! Even in the world of Internet and search engines, the very best information comes directly from the source. Your taking the time to write is very much appreciated.

    Also, the fact that all of you are still engaged in your work is a great relief to hear. As I said, David Marsden has mentioned Neil Chapman, and there are photos of him on the CFNY fansite playing at the 2003 reunion, but it is wonderful to hear that you both are recording with input from Graeme. I am going to check out the video immediately – and write an update to this article.

    Again, thanks so much for the additional info and all the very best to you!

    Cheers!
    MissP
    x

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  5. Respect x 1000 to Mr. Duggan-Smith for commenting here. That kind of interest in what fans are writing about his music is enough to make me seek and purchase out both the Pukka Orchestra recordings and any Autocondo recordings I can find. Very, very cool

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  6. ((((((Joey)))))

    My thoughts exactly. I am going to support this band for two reasons: 1) Mr. Duggan-Smith’s response, and 2) all of the comfort listening to “Might As Well Be On Mars” has given me.

    Hugs,
    MissP
    xo

    Like

  7. (((((((Blair)))))))

    Now I have one other reader besides you! 😉 Hope your first day back was a good one.

    *Hugs*
    xo

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  8. (((((((((((Ed)))))))))))

    You’re the best! I’ll be listening in to Retrospect on CFRC on Tuesday night from 8-10 pm, anxiously awaiting what you’ll have in store for us Pukka-wise and otherwise! 😉 (How was *that* for a plug?)

    Hugs,
    MissP
    xo

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  9. I just want to thank you all for taking the time to listen and write about all the different bands you like. Quite a lot of us live in our bubbles with very little feeback so it is great for us to come upon people discussing what we do. It doesn’t always have to be positive either, you can learn just as much from criticism as praise.
    Anyway have great summer and thanks for the support.

    Like

  10. Hey ((((Tony))))),

    I know I speak for a lot of us (music bloggers and DJs) when I say that we are only trying to give back some of the pleasure we’ve received from our favorite artists. What makes it really super-special is when we hear back from some of them, like you! Wishing you all the success in the world! I’ll be keeping tabs on your current success and I am definitely going to purchase the new Autocondo CD. Tried to the other night through CD Baby, but there was some issues about cookies I couldn’t seem to clear up. Will keep trying, though.

    All the very best,
    MissP
    xo

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  11. Hi, just check out your “Paralyzed” song! it is GREAT! wishing you all the success with autocondo.. you have a really wonderful sound.

    Cheers 🙂

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  12. “Autocondo” is a wonderful album! It’s melodic, and wonderfully inventive both lyrically and musically. Any project by the members of the Pukka Orchestra, either individually or collectively, can be counted on to fascinate and delight lovers of uniquely inventive music. On “Autocondo,” Tony Duggan-Smith collaborates with singer/songwriter Russell Walker, with assistance from Pukka buddy Neil Chapman, with brilliantly engaging results. Love this album!

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  13. OMG!! Ive just realised that I know Graeme Williamson!!! I shall just say Greame spends 3 nights a week being creative at my workplace, a large establishment in the city centre of Glasgow!! He’s a lovely guy and I cant wait to see him on Wednesday and tell him I stumbled accross him online!!!!

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  14. Thanks for your comment Nels – that’s wonderful that you know such a talented person. I love their music…and it lives on in a group now called “Autocondo.”

    Cheers!

    MissP
    x

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  15. As a historical note: The Pukka’s received the 1985 CASBY Award for ‘Most Promising Group’ but for some reason this seems to have slipped through the cracks of internet history.
    Neil and I were both at the awards and Graeme had just fallen ill in Scotland. We were shocked when we won and In classic canadian style, the night ended with my walking home in the rain with the CASBY under my coat. The limo’s parked outside the Hall were for the record execs only! Funny old world isn’t it!

    Like

  16. Hello again (((((Tony)))))) 🙂

    I put the information you posted into the post itself. Thank you for enlightening us! If you think of anything else you’d ike to share, please feel free. Perhaps an updated post is in order.

    All the best to you!

    hugs, MissP xo

    Like

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