Published Jan 28, 2019Long a local hero on the Hamilton scene, Chris Houston is best known nationally as the co-writer of "Surfin' on Heroin," a '70s punk classic recorded by his then-band the Forgotten Rebels.
After leaving that group, he has recorded only sporadically, so the arrival of a new collection of songs showcasing his idiosyncratic talent is very welcome. Hazards of Glitter reflects the peer respect Houston has earned, boasting an impressive cast list that includes Mary Margaret O'Hara, Blue Rodeo's Bazil Donovan, Cleave Anderson, Jim Cuddy, and Greg Keelor, Michelle McAdorey, Teenage Head's Gord Lewis, Lori Yates and more.
Alongside some twisted originals, Houston covers tunes by kindred spirits Lou Reed ("Kill Your Sons," "Vicious Circle"), Tommy Ramone, and Robert Calvert (Hawkwind). Reed is perhaps the most apt stylistic reference point, lyrically and vocally, as Houston original "Uptown Sucking Cock (Downtown Smoking Rock)" illustrates. He doesn't so much sing as narrate in a gruff yet engaging voice, delivering tales of decadence, substance abuse and general dysfunction with swagger and wit.
Massed backing vocals are oft employed here, while O'hara's signature freewheeling vocal noises shine on "All Lightbulbs Are Microphones (Baby Doll, Those Nipples)." On highlight track "Psychedelic Igloo," he name-checks famed Toronto promoter Gary Topp, Garth Hudson and the Paupers in a gonzo musical history lesson. This is a raucous and refreshing rock'n'roll romp (DW Recordings)