MUSIC

Brian Canham opens the vault on 1990: The Lost Album Demos to reveal Pseudo Echo treasures

LOST RELIC: Pseudo Echo's Brian Canham had believed for almost 30 years that his fourth album was lost.

LOST RELIC: Pseudo Echo's Brian Canham had believed for almost 30 years that his fourth album was lost.

FOR almost 30 years Pseudo Echo frontman Brian Canham has wondered what happened to his debut solo album.

The supposed only copy of the demo recordings was last seen - and heard - in 1990 at the offices of EMI Australia.

"I asked for it back every day, then every week and then every month, and it was lost," Canham says. "I never saw it again. After a few years I gave up and left it."

However as any hoarder knows, a good old-fashioned spring cleaning session can uncover gold. One day Canham and his wife Raquel were rummaging through a box of old cassettes.

Among the recordings that Canham made prior to Pseudo Echo forming in 1982, he discovered a tape with the song, Just Your Day, the planned opener of the lost album.

Canham kept digging and suddenly he'd uncovered all nine tracks on a back-up tape he'd forgotten had existed.

"I kept listening through and one by one - You Were There, Destiny, all these songs," he says. "The titles were weird, they were like telling me it was my destiny. It was so strange."

But just as these songs resurfaced, the limitations of old technology almost destroyed the recordings.

"The bloody tape got jammed in the tape player being an old vintage machine," Canham says. "It chewed the whole tape into the machine.

"We quickly ejected it out and managed to get the whole tape out without a crease or break. It came out perfectly and did the whole pen method and twisted it back in.

"Then we thought we've gotta get this properly digitalised so it's never gonna be lost or broken again."

Last week the whole world finally had the opportunity to listen to the lost songs when Canham released 1990: The Lost Album Demos under the Pseudo Echo name in its original form.

The album is a time capsule of the late '80s when Pseudo Echo's trademark synth-dominated new wave sound was diversifying towards heavier stadium rock-era guitars.

"Strangely I'd gone back to my earlier youth," Canham says. "I'd been through the '80s and found that sound for Pseudo Echo, but with the advent of CDs I started buying up CDs of bands like Deep Purple, REO Speedwagon, Boston, all these American stadium rock bands. I was getting into that.

"There's a mixture on there. There's stuff that still sounds '80s and stuff that's more '70s. It was more classic rock."

Despite being 30-year-old demo recordings, the album sounds surprisingly powerful. Canham performs the vocals, guitar, synths and bass on the album and the programed the drum machine.

When Canham made the decision to release the album he was steadfast in leaving the original recording intact.

"I thought if I re-record it, then it's just old songs," he says. "Everyone has old songs. So it had to be those recordings.

"It was my demos which were meant to be the guide for the rest of us to redo.

"It's a really vulnerable thing to expose your demo tapes. There will be notes you didn't quite hit or parts you missed when you were playing this or that."

1990: The Lost Album Demos also takes Canham back to a painful period in his life. After enjoying success with the albums Autumnal Park (1984) and Love An Adventure (1985) and a worldwide smash with their cover of Funky Town, internal issues marred the band's third album Race (1988).

Surprisingly for Canham, EMI wanted a fourth Pseudo Echo album, but as he was preparing to deliver the demos Pierre Gigliotti (bass), James Leigh (keys) and Vince Leigh (drums) quit the band.

"It was personal and professional," Canham says of the turmoil in his life when writing the songs for 1990: The Lost Album Demos.

I'm not bitching about it because we're all good these days, but we were young kids and young kids are crazy with their own egos and own selfishness.

Brian Canham

"There was a real division. The band went through a terrible division on the third album.

"We had songs submitted without me knowing, it was terrible. I had the whole rug pulled out from under my feet. Something I'd built up from scratch and there was almost a mutiny, it got so full on. Then they just deserted me.

"I'm not bitching about it because we're all good these days, but we were young kids and young kids are crazy with their own egos and own selfishness."

It's been a productive 12 months for Canham despite Melbourne's COVID lockdowns. Last year he released an acoustic record of Pseudo Echo classics, Acoustica, which was followed by new album, After Party.

"When you get served lemons, they say you've got to make lemonade," Canham says.

Pseudo Echo's 1990: The Lost Album Demos is out now.

This story Brian Canham unearths Pseudo Echo of the past first appeared on Newcastle Herald.