Blue Rodeo's OUTSKIRTS debut album of 1987 was the Canadian success story of the past year. The quintessential "little band that grew," Blue Rodeo rode the wave of integrity out of their Toronto/Queen St. roots to Double Platinum Canadian sales, and onward to international acclaim while picking up almost every Canadian award available along the way.
After two years and hundreds of gigs Blue Rodeo have now emerged with a stunning second album. DIAMOND MINE differs from OUTSKIRTS in two major ways: the cohesiveness of the band is even more apparent after working together night after night, and the subsequently compatible, though unusual, recording environment left its mark as well.
"We're a much better live band after hundreds of shows together," explains singer/songwriter Jim Cuddy. "That better musicianship along with an un-intimidating recording atmosphere really shows on this record."
The "un-intimidating atmosphere" was an old movie theatre in the east end of Toronto which had been partially gutted in the process of renovation. Using the Comfort Sound Mobile studio facility, Blue Rodeo made this old theatre their home for three weeks of recording in December of '88. Chairs were brought in from home, sleeping bags draped over chairs were used as sound baffles and even a Christmas tree was brought in to complete the homey environment.
"The theatre sounded better - it had natural echo you don't get in a recording studio," Cuddy noted, "plus it allowed us to set up as a band instead of in separate booths. Since we operate best as a unit playing live, we wanted to try and duplicate that on the record."
Co-singer songwriter Greg Keelor continues, "We wanted to be in a place where we could set up and take all the time we wanted and feel relaxed. Most recording studios are built to absorb sound and we found it can have the same effect on the individual - it draws the energy out of you." The Blue Rodeo line up remains the same for DIAMOND MINE, with Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor playing guitar and trading lead and harmony vocals. They are complimented by an airtight rhythm section with Cleave Anderson on drums and Bazil Donovan on bass. Keyboard wildman Bobby Wiseman is featured on accordion as well as organ this time out.
DIAMOND MINE was produced by the band along with engineer Malcolm Burn. As a recording artist himself, both solo and with The Boys Brigade, Burn was able to get the best from Blue Rodeo without overpowering them. Most recently Malcolm has worked as chief engineer with Canadian studio wiz Daniel Lanois, an apprenticeship noticeable in the warm sounds of DIAMOND MINE.
The first single from DIAMOND MINE is the title cut, an eerie tribute to love lost, written and sung by Greg Keelor. It's also the subject of this album's first video directed by Michael Buckley. This video was filmed at McWaters & Assoc. Studios in Toronto -- the same company responsible for previous Blue Rodeo clips.
Upon release of OUTSKIRTS, Blue Rodeo were called "Toronto's best kept secret" by the local press, then "Canada's best kept secret" as the single TRY became a multi-format hit.
Jim Cuddy: "TRY was a big surprise for us; it took us into the mainstream where we never expected to be. Obviously there is some pressure to follow up with another hit but we never record with that in mind. We'd like to keep the momentum going but not at the expense of our integrity as a band or as individuals."
The band have already gathered praise from international press both for their live show and for OUTSKIRTS. Rolling Stone enthused "the best new American band may very well be Canadian," while Billboard Magazine and the prestigious Guardian newspaper in the UK raved about Blue Rodeo's live performances on both sides of the Atlantic.
With the worldwide release of DIAMOND MINE in April 1989 "Canada's best kept secret" will embark on national and international tours to tell the rest of the world what Canada already knows.
All songs © 1988, 1989 Blue Rodeo Productions.
PRODUCED BY: Malcolm Burn and Blue Rodeo
ARRANGED BY: Blue Rodeo
ENGINEERED BY: Ike Zimble (except Diamond Mine and Now and Forever engineered by Doug McClement) assisted by Mark Lambert, Brad Ormsby, Doug McClement
PRODUCTION ASSISTANT: Brant Scott
MIXED BY: Malcolm Burn and Blue Rodeo
MIXING ENGINEER AND BONGOS: Mark Howard
MIXED AT: The Studio, Soniat Street, New Orleans, LA
MASTERED BY: Bob Ludwig at Masterdisk, NY,NY
A&R COORDINATION: Bob Roper
BOOKING AGENT: Trick or Treat Agency (905) 831-9191
PHOTOGRAPHY: John Phillips/FMI
COVER CONCEPT & DESIGN: Ambrose Pottie
TYPOGRAPHY: Casual Casual
Thanks to: Rena, Guy Furner, John at Ring Music, Marvellous Mimi, Denny, Marty Millionaire, Michael Buckley, Christopher, Marla, Rosanne, Tony Robertson, Our Crew - Tom August, Howard Madill, Ron Berti, Dan Derbridge and Amps; U.K. Crew - Dan Winkley, Dave Shamma, Everyone at the A.C.T. - David B. Merrick, Tonni Nielsen, Grant Rorabeck, Jean-Francois Leblanc, Sue Hercher and Sari Colt, Michael & Kay White, Jack Ross, Terry Brown, Dave Stacey, Gerr Electroacoustics, Pierce Sound, Richard Hill, Carla Hartsfied, Allan Baxter, Wrench Tuttle, Ren Feddersen, Big Jim Keelor, Michelle, Rael, Faythe and Dwayne Donovan, Ingrid and Tristan.
Everyone at WEA Worldwide and Atlantic Records.
Welcome to the world Emma Kathleen Cuddy - Born September 25/88 and Luke Anderson - Born July 16/88.
For correspondence and touring information, write to us at: P.O. Box #185, Station C, Toronto, Ontario, M6J 3M9.
Produced with the Assistant of FACTOR (Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Record)
All songs by Keelor/Cuddy. All songs published by Thunderhawk Music (SOCAN).