Friday, November 13, 2009



On Sat., Nov. 28/09, the Dominion Tavern in Ottawa, Canada, will be the unlikely site of much media [and fan] attention, as The ACTION, "Ottawa's First Punk Band", plays its highly anticipated REUNION SHOW!!! A 2nd matinee/all-ages show takes places Sun., Nov. 29!)

The band has just released its "COMPLETE PUNK RECORDINGS '77-'78" album on SUDDEN DEATH Records in Canada and the US and on RAVE UP Records in Europe (on vinyl).

The saga of THE ACTION began in Ottawa, Canada's capital, in early 1977. Guitarists The PHANTOM brothers, JOHN and PAUL, formed the band and soon recruited TED AXE on vocals and eventually got their younger brother, MIKE, on bass. Drummer SHOT SPOT completed the Action lineup and the rest is Canadian Punk history! Axe, having just returned from living in London, brought in a tape of punk tunes, and THE ACTION added numbers by The Sex Pistols, The Ramones and others to their '70s rock covers and handful of originals. By this time, the band had secured a house gig at the now defunct "Chaud" in Hull, Quebec, and they brought out the new songs to play for a bewildered but rowdy audience of drunk French-Canadian bikers and hookers. Soon, however, THE ACTION, was packing them in and had to move to a hipper and larger venue. The newly-opened Rotters Den gave them a residency.

The sleepy Ottawa media took notice, eager to report on the latest threat to decency known as "Punk." The band was touted as "Ottawa's first Punk Band!" Ted Axe garnered a reputation as a flamboyant, controversial frontman and formidable vocalist and brothers Paul and John's dueling and scintillating guitars never failed to bring the house down. Mike and Shot Spot cannoned the bottom end as the town's toughest and most bombastic rhythm section.

THE ACTION opened for the North American debut of The Stranglers tour and played support to The Vibrators, The Dead Boys, Wayne County, Eddie and The Hot Rods, The Police, and others. The press started referring to Axe as "The PRINCE OF PUNK".

In fact, THE ACTION received more press in a very short time... more than most self-respecting bands see in a lifetime! In early '77, the general Canadian public had not even heard of punk rock, and THE ACTION were like children whose capacity for outrage depended entirely on the intolerance of the adults. At a local high school, they made the papers for their stage antics when they played at the Halloween dance held in the school gym. "OBSCENE PUNKERS RAISE SCHOOL'S IRE", read the lurid headline the next day. The distraught principal claimed that the singer had "made obscene gestures at the audience", that "he went through the motions of vomiting while another band member pretended to lap it up" and that "he had an obscene rip in the front of his leather trousers that split, exposing his genitals!" That "he simulated oral sex on his band mates" and then "smashed two jack-o-lanterns!" They were swiftly banned from The Ottawa Musician's Union!

It was a punk rock band's dream and the publicity just kept on coming. Axe decided it was time to dominate the city's media! The town's major TV stations and newspapers were invited down to the band's tiny rehearsal room known as "The Pit". The result was a media frenzy! A comedy of crossed camera cues and bumbling newsmen, as scores of journalists descended into the submarine bunker of a practice place. The band had prepared their lair by strewing empty beer bottles and garbage knee-high on the floor. They put on a sneering show that day, mugging for the cameras while groupies strangled each other and spurted stage blood pogoing to the group's hit, "Do the Strangle"! The reporters ate it up! That night, as civil servants tried to eat their dinners, THE ACTION screamed at them from their TV sets. The next day, THE ACTION was suddenly front page news!"

"LOOK OUT, HERE COMES OTTAWA PUNK", Axe sneered at readers from the accompanying front page photo, giving the obligatory finger. "TV's on The Blink", the group's single, meanwhile, was climbing the college charts! There were live radio broadcasts from the city's FM stations. One radio interview went wrong when Ted was interviewed on the local AM news station. The host asked why THE ACTION wrote songs about venereal disease (referring to the band's maritime ditty, "Seafood Mama"). Ted feigned disgust and swore at the DJ whose phone lines promptly lit up with outraged listeners! ( Check out "Mr Holmes" on the new record).

THE ACTION played Toronto's Isabella Hotel and hung out at TO's punk-central, New Rose, contributing to the vibrant Toronto punk scene spearheaded by bands like The Viletones and Teenage Head. They appeared in New York's Punk/Glam magazine, "Rock Scene", when they played CBGBs.

THE ACTION was snatched up by '60s French-Canadian singing star turned producer, Tony Roman, out of Montreal, who signed them to his new Punk label, "MONTRECO RECORDS". Roman and his mafia connections were out to exploit the band and the new genre. (The Action tune,"All The Way", tells the sordid tale). Montreco released THE ACTION EP in 1977, pioneering EP format in Canada. (Much to the group's dismay, however, the record was released with a safety pin graphic firmly attached to the cover!) The band's coked-out management secured an opening slot on a 20-city US tour with The Ramones! The blow, however, was getting ridiculous and the band was getting badly ripped-off! THE ACTION eventually axed their managers and label but became entangled in contractual red tape. Unable to sign with a new company, THE ACTION floundered, going through member changes and eventually disbanded in '81, never to achieve their full potential...UNTIL NOW!!!

THE ACTION IS BACK and will be touring Canada, America, and Europe in 2010 to promote its new album, a complete collection of recordings of the band from 1977 to 1978. The album is currently available from, and at select record stores throughout Canada and the U.S. Pogo to "T.V.'s on the Blink", "Down Town Boy", "Do The Strangle", and "Waiting for the Man," "Seafood Mama", "Let You Down", "Pressed Pig", and "Zona Rosa", plus live recordings from the famed Rotters Den!

This is a Punk collector's dream, a chronicle of a time when anything could happen and often did. Besides showcasing THE ACTION's great catchy punk tunes, the album also shows the band's chops as a versatile star rock and roll outfit that was ahead of its time! IT ROCKS!

Get Ready...Here comes THE ACTION back to take its rightful place as contender for the Rock Throne!!!

Margaret Trudeau

[Edited for grammar]


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