The Windsor Star
Blue Peter performs at Ambassador Auditorium, University of Windsor, Thursday April Sat at 8 p.m.
By Ted Shaw
Star Entertainment Writer
It took five years but the Toronto rock band, Blue Peter, finally "got its foot in the door" of commercial success in 1983.
With the release of a four-song dance record aimed at the nation's feet, Blue Peter started to get wide recognition.
Chris Wardman, a Blue Peter founding member, said the times may have caught up to his group's heavily rhythmic brand of rock and roll. "We're now considered a trendy bond but we've been doing basically the same thing for six years."
The formula for success was last year's hot dance number, Don't Walk Past, and the credit goes to Wardman and Blue Peter for figuring out the formula and using it to advantage.
Blue Peter developed from a high school group in Markham, Ontario in 1978 but its audience had remained small through three ·releases between 1980 and 1982. Don't Walk Past appeared on the group's 1983 release Falling (Ready Records. LR034). but was remixed and re-recorded for a revved-up EP later In the year called Version ( Ready Records, ER 040).
Both FALLING and Version were supervised by British pop producer, Steve Nye, who had handled recordings for XTC, Roxy Music and Japan.
"We weren't too impressed with the mastering of Falling" said Wardman, who explained the group went back into Toronto's Sounds Interchange studio with engineer, Kevin Doyle, and mixed alternative takes of Don't Walk Past with newly recorded tracks to come up with essentially a new version of the song.
The thickened bass and percussive precision of the four songs on Version pleased the band: "Now we essentially use Version as a taking-off point for the live shows," said Wardman. "We cut It hotter, it was more representative of what we were trying to do on Falling."
The next step on Blue Peter's road to success was releasing a video of Don't Walk Past. The band chose Robert F Quartly, whose Champagne Producttons has done. work for other Canadian rock acts like Platinum ·Blonde and Sherry Kean. In November, the band got a big boost when the video was added to MTV's rotation. That happened even though Blue Peter records aren't distributed in the United States.
Wardman hopes that situation will change this year.
MAYBE THE BEST thing about Blue Peter's future ls Wardman's age - at 24 he's one of the band's senior members.
There's time for change. but don't judge Blue Peter by its youthfulness. The group has plenty of experience behind it: "We made all the mistakes we could make." Wardman said. "Twice the group has had management hassles," he said. "We were losing money and credibility. The money wasn't ending up In the right pockets."
The group also walked out on Ready Records after Its initial release. Radio Silence. It spent a year without a record contract before coming back to Ready.
"We've spent a year paying off bad debts," Wardman said, thankful for Version's commercial success, and the future seems rosier now.
Wardman and singer Paul Humphrey formed Blue Peter out of high school but there have been several personnel changes over the years, The band added a keyboard player for Falling, Jason Sniderman.
"Before we were basically a power trio with a singer" said Wardman. "Now we're more melodic, smother. The keyboards and guitars split the harmonies.
The live sound is more refined, he said, a far cry from the Blue Peter that last visited Windsor in 1980: "I'd rather forget that." said Wardman. "We had awful equipment and after the show we had trouble getting paid."
Anchoring the new Blue Peter are bassist Rick Joudrey and percussionist Owen Tennyson. Tennyson's percussive effects, coupled with Snlderman's Linn drum sounds, make the EP a great dance record.