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Another Great Canadian “H”: The Delightful Helix

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I’ve recently written about the fine Canadian band The Headpins, so it’s only fitting that I write now about the band I saw them on a double bill with, many many years ago – Canada’s great hair/pop-metal band Helix.

The concert I saw was being filmed for the then-new Much Music channel, so that must have been around 1984 or 1985.  Oh, those bands were wonderful, playing their hearts out.  And I saw Helix, or the version of Helix touring at that time (thankfully, still with irreplaceable vocalist Brian Vollmer), again eight or nine years ago, opening for Alice Cooper.  Brian still has the pipes.

But Back In Those Days. . . .

Well, I have to admit that I went through two copies of Long Way to Heaven (younger readers won’t understand the concept, but in the old days, albums could wear out, whether on 8-track, vinyl, or cassette – which is why I still have two copies of almost every Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd record – because even when you get a new copy, you can hardly throw away the worn-out old one!).  But I think the band’s biggest hit was their cover of the lovely 1972 ballad “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want,” originally written and performed by A Foot in Coldwater.  When I saw Helix the first time, Vollmer pulled a young woman out of the audience to dance with him during the guitar solo in that song; I recall her looking perhaps a little bemused as he held her in his sweaty embrace.  But it was sure a crowd-pleasing moment.

The Voice, The Voice

Vollmer’s career has had its ups and downs; you can find out the details with a quick internet search.  But what’s important is that he’s a great showman and a great singer, and, along with fronting a partially reformed Helix now, he gives bel canto voice lessons.  If you’re unfamiliar with opera, bel canto is the kind of singing that emphasizes very difficult pieces and hard-to-reach notes, but this heavy-metal veteran has learned the techniques and can teach them.  When you hear him perform, though, what you hear is pure hard-rock magic.  Check out some of Helix’s great songs, including their classic “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’” and my favourite, “Long Way To Heaven.”  You’ll be transported back to a time when a drummer wearing bumless chaps was simply par for the course (trust me, I was there).




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