Blue Peter Could Be a Bit Neater

The first thing that strikes you about Toronto's Blue Peter is that they're a lot of fun to listen to.


The first thing that strikes you about Toronto's Blue Peter is that they're a lot of fun to listen to.

The second thing that hits you is that it all sounds a little familiar - sort of like Roxy Music.

But trailblazers are hard to find in the new music mode, and if dancin's on your mind, this Eastern Canadian fivesome definitely has a persuasive, foot-fidgeting quality.

The group - which plays the Mayfield tonight and the Highway tomorrow through Saturday - casts its shadow with the romantic, lanky figure of singer Paul Humphrey.

Leather cummerbund slashing his billowing shirt and pirate pants, he swashbuckles between the Teddy-Boy look of guitarist Chris Wardman and punkish bass player Rick Joudrey. Blue Peter revolves musically around Humphrey, too.

Catchy melodies, dreamy keyboards

The group's catchy melodies depend on his strong vocals and the dreamy keyboards of Jason Sniderman.

Using a reverb that sometimes gives him the artificially deepened quality of Dion or Fabian, Humphrey is compelling as he powers out the lyrics.

Wardman rarely takes the lead, adding mostly rhythm guitar to the group's sound. And though drummer Owen Tennyson looks a little like a frantic, punchdrunk fighter behind his kit, his cymbal-laden licks combine with Joudrey's bass to give the band a crisp bottom line.

But material from the band's new album, Falling, sounds a lot like their older stuff, and you don't have to change steps too often once you get out on the dance floor.

Could use more vocal variation

The quintet also has problems when it comes to varying the vocal end of the spectrum. The unison singing of Joudrey, Sniderman and Wardman was an effective complement to Humphrey on old-timers like Let's Stick Together, but it was used a little too often to remain fresh.

When the band did try to infuse harmonies into the vocals, the result was a little dubious and muddied what was usually a clear overall sound.

With a back beat that can't lose and a definite melodic gift, maybe Blue Peter only needs a little saltpetre to shake them up.