Burning / I Turned My Nights Into Days
Stony Plain Records (1998)
- You Don't Know
- Gamma Lamma
- Hands Of Time
- Let The Good Times Roll
- Stranger Blues
- Hangover Morning
- Next Time You See Me
- Flatfoot Sam [mp3]
- You Belong To Me
- Hidden Charms
- The Message (Reverend James)
- Love Is A Five Letter Word
- Fire On The Bayou
- Shake Your Money Maker
- Just For A Thrill
- The Chill Is On (The Mellow Freeze)
- Cold Sweat
- Love and Happiness
- Bad Boy
Album Liner Notes
This is a special occasion: The first reissue, on CD, of Jim Byrnes' first two albums — Burning, originally released in 1981 on the Polydor label, and I Turned My Nights Into Days, a 1987 recording on the Stony Plain label.
These long vanished slices of priceless vinyl have held up remarkably well, and they feature the same sort of stylish, soulful r&b energy that made Byrne's last Stony Plain album, That River, a 1995 Juno Award winner. The music came from the right places — and his teenage years in St. Louis, Missouri, and from the man's heart, soul and experience. Jim still remembers Ike & Tina Turner in a small club near his home, and late nights with Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, and countless stars from the Memphis scene down the Mississippi from St. Louis — and he remembers the way that classic music touched him.
Jim Byrnes brought his music to Canada in the late '60s, first to Toronto and then to Vancouver, which has been home ever since. His band, featuring his gritty vocals and his strong guitar playing, hammered out the blues in downtown clubs like The Yale, and across British Columbia, with occasional trips across Canada and into the north western United States. The following he built resulted in the recordings you are holding in your hand.
Right now — early in 1998 Jim Byrnes is, in the parlance so beloved of actors the world over, "resting". That is, he doesn't have a television series for the first time in a decade, he doesn't have to report to work at a film studio, he doesn't have to fly to Paris or Los Angeles to hurry up and wait for television crews to get their complicated acts together. So he's at home. Mind you, he and his family are about to move (to another house they've purchased down the road). There's a variety of scripts to read for future projects. There's another set of scripts he wants to write (and rewrite) for a television series involving two other Vancouver actors. And then there's rehearsals for the band, and and some new songs he's completing songs for a new recording.
This is "resting"?
Jim Byrnes is a familiar face and figure on television in Canada, the United States, Europe and half way around the world. First there was Wiseguy, which ran for three and a half years, followed by Neon Rider, followed, of course, by Highlander, and that enormously popular cult series ran for six seasons, with the final instalments filmed in Paris and Vancouver at the end of 1997. Jim's character, Joe Dawson, appears in half the Highlander instalments, and he can't walk down a street in many European capitals — where the popularity of the show is enormous — without being stopped for autographs.
The producers and writers made the best advantage of Byrnes' musical as wall as his acting skills; he wrote theme and background music for numerous instalments of Wisequy and Highlander — and in Highlander his character often played guitar and sang the blues. If you were one of the few people who missed Jim's most recent series, don't worry; Highlander will be around for years to come in re-runs.
But if Jim Byrnes' acting career has kept him coming in to your living room far more than 10 years, it's music that has had the most serious impact on his life, completing the circle when the acting jobs weren't coming, filling his need to be constantly creative as a musician.
Burning, triggered by producer Tom Lavin's awareness of Jim's popularity in western Canada in the late '70s, is typical of his live sets to this day, a driving mix of blues and r&b, punctuated by leader's fine guitar work, sparkling piano from Will MacCalder, and in-the-pocket tenor sax sounds from Dove Woodward, who had apprenticed with the Downchild band back east in Toronto. Byrnes originals mixed perfectly with tunes from Howling Wolf, Magic Sam, and Isaac Hayes and a couple of slices of "traditional" and timeless blues.
Six years later, the second of the two albums on this compilation was recorded at Harpo's in Victoria, long a home for the blues on Vancouver Island. Once again, a mix of r&b tunes from James Brown and Al Green, a romp through Elmore James' Shake Your Moneymaker, and a couple of originals keeps the crowd — and the members of the Byrnes band at the time — grooving.
Today, Byrnes figures the music has held up well. "I remember we recorded I Turned By Nights Into Days around Christmas 1986, and after that I went off to Mexico for a long holiday. When I came back in February I got the part in Wiseguy, which was about to start filming in Vancouver. It was my first major acting part is ages, and while it was to establish me as a television actor, it limited the touring I could do to support the record.
"I was never one of those blues purists who figured that unless it had been recorded in the Chess studios between 1954 and 1965 it wasn't the real thing. I never liked pigeon-holing my music. So you'll hear a touch of reggae, some Memphis soul, some deep country blues, some r&b, and a taste of rock and roll. And my first two albums allowed me to do that and then some and I think they've held up pretty well."
Today, as he pauses in his television career, he's working on the music for his next recording sessions. Meanwhile, this collection of his first two albums sounds mighty fine. Like he says, they've held up well.
- Richard Flohil.
What People Said
Byrnes is a convincing vocalist and a fine guitarist who has a keen grasp on a variety of material, ranging from the pretty raw ("Hidden Charms"), to the suave and urbane ("Just for a Thrill"), andf everything in between. He has an affinity for the Memphis sound and dabbnles in New Orleans funk as well, tackling tunes by Issac Hayes ("You Don't Know') and the Meters ("Fire on the Bayou"), among others. A good opportunity to update your vinyl, or to get an introduction to a seminal figure in Canadian blues.
- Blues Scene Quarterly
With 19 tracks, over 70 minutes of classic driving rhythm and blues, Jim Byrnes has withstood the test of time. Forget about the 9 to 5, the crosstown traffic, the rat race - sit back, turn it up, and go back to the future with Jim Byrnes. (This CD) is truely one of Canada's best.
Album Credits for Tracks 1 - 11
Jim Byrnes - lead vocals and guitar
Tom Lavin - guitar
Lindsay Mitchell - guitar (track 5)
Will MacCaulder - piano
Robbie King - organ
Jack Lavin - bass, harp (track 6)
Kat Hendrikse - drums
Bill Runge - Baritone Sax
Dave Woodward - Tenor Sax
Mark Hasselbach - Trumpet
Jane Mortifee and Big Boy Tan - Background Vocals (track 3)
Kidd Afrika and Gail Bowen - Background Vocals (track 4)
Recorded and mixed at Blue Wave Recorders, Vancouver BC
Tom Lavin and Will MacCaulder - Producers
Brian Campbell - Chief Engineer
Album Credits for Tracks 12 - 19
Jim Byrnes - lead vocals and guitar
Mike Kalanj - B3 and DX7 keyboards, vocals
Bill Runge - saxophones, bass, vocals
Duris Maxwell - drums
Recorded live at Harpo's Cabaret, Victoria BC
Michael Kidder - Live Engineer
Mixed at Blue Wave Sound Productions, Vancouver, BC
Will MacCaulder - Mix Supervisor
- Mix Engineer