80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Darkroom (Canada)

Darkroom1This is just a really brief, down-and-dirty entry about a group that broke onto the 80’s music scene with so much potential, but was essentially flash-in-the-pan short-lived. There isn’t a whole lot of information out there on them, but I’ve pulled together the essence of what I was able to unearth.

The band formed in Edmonton, Alberta Canada in the early 80’s and was made up of Jim Gray (vocals), Jeff Schmidt (bass), Tim Palmar (drums), Alan Marks (guitar), and Wolf Radke (guitar, keyboards). Before the band eventually broke up in 1989, they released two full-length LPs, San Paku and A Test of Time. Jim Gray also played a vampire in the mid-80’s TV series “The Little Vampire,” launching an acting career that would see him into the 90’s in front of the camera, then behind the scenes as a Hollywood set designer.

As far as I can tell, Darkroom albums are out of print. The only way to obtain these collections is to buy used vinyl and cassettes from private sellers. If you can get your hands on any of their music, go for it. In my humble opinion, “San Paku” is a really outstanding, dark, goth-like post-punk tune that will find its way inside your head and take a long time to leave.

 “San Paku” (audio only) via YouTube user Kaiserkraut2:

In Dim Light” (audio only) via YouTube user hippyandchicky:

Broken English” (audio only) via YouTube user hippyandchicky:

Here is one resource for purchasing Darkroom music.

Discography

Darkroom_aSan Paku (1983)

 

 

Darkroom_bA Test of Time (1985)

 

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34 thoughts on “80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Darkroom (Canada)

  1. Great post MissP, I find it very odd at how some bands that I take for granted are so unknown to many. I was very fortunate to have been exposed to this bands early. They deserved so much more and it is folks like you that are bringing the attention that they so deserved. Keep it up.

    Cheers

    Ed

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  2. That goes double for me, (((((Joey))))). Thank goodness for technology so that we can go back and enjoy it after-the-fact.

    Cheers,
    MissP
    xo

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  3. Hi (((((Ed))))))

    Hearing Darkroom on your show this past week was why I decided to feature them. I have also heard them occasionally on David’s show. It was amazing how little information I was able to find. One Canadian newspaper article I came across from 2005 said that Jim Gray was moving to Scotland to start a new life with his wife. Maybe that’s why.

    Keep the music alive!

    Hugs,
    MissP
    xo

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  4. Darkroom is one my all time favorite bands. I just posted San Paku on my Facebook site. Their music still lives on way down in the heart of Texas! Other bands I love from Canada are The Spoons, The Box, Payolas, Gowan, Images in Vogue, Strange Advance, Breeding Ground, Perfect World, Jane Siberry….

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  5. Hey Soldier,

    Thank you for your comment. I am right with you on about 95% of your list. There was/is such great talent north of the border.

    Cheers and all the best to you,
    MissP
    x

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  6. I just salvaged San Paku out of a bargain bin at a radio station in Vancouver for 25 cents! I totally remember Darkroom playing on Good Rockin’ Tonight back in the mid-80’s hosted by that guy now on CMT, ha!

    I have a radio show here, so it is nice to have more quality Canadian new wave/post punk stuff from that era. I’ve got my share of Spoons and Images in Vogue material, but grabbed that Darkroom as well as a Breeding Ground 12″ as soon as I saw them.

    Anybody out there got an opinion or recommendation on Moev? I’m having a hard time getting into them.

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  7. I love Moev – especially the earlier formation. “Head Down” is one of my favorite motivational tunes during a hard day at work. The two LPs “Head down” and “Yeah Whatever” from the 80’s are definitely worth a listen.

    Thanks for stopping by and for your comment,
    MissP
    xo

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  8. No problem. I will check out those 2 albums if I can dig them up. I found Darkroom and Breeding Ground a little more dark and gothic. Which fits in more with my own personal taste.

    At this point, Moev is feeling just too pop, and not good synthpop but tinny crap. But I will take your recommendations into consideration. I trust the early stuff is their best work as that is so often the case.

    Thanks so much for responding.

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  9. Glad I could be of some help. Let me know what you think after you’ve had a chance to sample some early Moev.

    Thanks for stopping back and Cheers!
    MissP
    xo

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  10. Wow…. I saw these guys in spring of 1986 while I was visiting Edmonton on a high school band trip. First time in a bar, hanging out with Erica Ehm from Much Music. MM was there doing a feature on Darkroom and was shooting some live footage. As I remember, they were really good live, and really nice guys. The opening band was also a very cool Alberta band called Junior Gone Wild. As a side note, a band I played in a couple of years later actually covered In Dim Light. Was nice to hear some of these songs again. Many thanks to the person who posted.

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  11. I was lucky enough to be a good friend of Jim Gray.AT least in the time he was in Darkroom.I was the lead singer in the band Eyes Only. We warmed up for Darkroom a number of times and I can say I never failed to stay the whole night to watch darkroom finish the night.I have to say as far as front men go Jim was world class. I would say at the level of a Michael Hutchence of INXS and the flair of Bowie and the soul and enery of a Mick Jagger.So I could not believe my luck of getting to watch someone like that night after night at a local club. I think most Darkroom fans felt they were something specail and unique.Its just too bad that at the time they came out of Edmonton and wanted to stay living there as home base. At the time the music industry in Canada was not about to really push and promote a local Edmonton band.Had they all lived in London or LA Im sure they would have been a house hold name. On a side note it was amazing how dissapointed Darkroom fans were when SANPAKU finally came out and all the bottom was missing in the mix.So if you are listening to it now to get the full effect of what Darkroom was really like re EQ with tons of low end Enjoy Colin

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  12. It’s so strange how the world works haha. Or how much past a person has! Jeff, the bass player, is my boss at my current job. He’s awesome. 😀

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  13. Watched this band a few times in east edmonton and managed a few drinks after the show with them.Great talent that went unnoticed unbelievably.I’d love to get a hold of the 2 albums but can’t find them anywhere and i live in Edmonton.In Dim Light and San Paku really r great tunes that never got the exposure they should have probably because of them being a band from Edmonton and not T.O or Van.If anyone finds it i’d be more than happy to pay for the music. Great music!

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  14. I came across this site trying to see if I can purchase any of their albums online. I lived in Edmonton in the 80’s and saw these guys countless times. Amazing stage presence and always had the crowd going. Was lucky enough to drink and hang out with them between their sets.

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  15. Hi Duane – glad you stopped in. Love your story. I’ll bet they were fantastic to hear live. So much talent from Canada that we missed out on here in the states. I’m glad to have a second chance, via the internet, to “go back in time” and enjoy.

    All the best to you and good luck on your search for their music!

    Hugs,
    MissP

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  16. Wow…totally late on this discussion. Lived in Edmonton area for ever (still have a house in Sherwood Park)…Jim and the band were good friends…went to every event that I could (along with NEO-A4, VOICE, etc). I thought they were the best band that did not get a break. I now live in London (UK)…it is great that so many people really appreciate what that band did for music, the Edmonton music scene and for Edmonton. I heard Jim moved to the UK. Would love to reconnect. He and I have not played golf together for some time…

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  17. Hi Jeffrey–Never too late! Thank you for sharing your memories. It’s what keeps these fantastic artists alive in the collective public’s mind. Have you tried FaceBook to reconnect? All the best and keep me posted. Would love to hear if you guys get back in touch.

    Best,
    MissP

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  18. Blue Peter at Highway motor inn I still remember that night. Any Idea where to get any Slash and the Bleeding Hearts music?

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  19. Darkroom got back together. They are playing one night only in Edmonton at the Century Casino Showroom on Nov 14, 2014. Tickets are being sold at Event Brite. Check facebook.

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  20. My friends and I used to see them every time they were in Edmonton, they were an incredible band, and they are back for a reunion, which I have my tickets, and will be bringing my vinyl and/or cassettes. If you ever want to hear them, Jim has a site that highlights their music.
    https://www.facebook.com/jimgraydarkroomvampire?ref=profile

    Have all of their albums and have converted them to cd format and mp3.

    Bruce

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