The British North-American Act — “Only a Dream”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — December 19, 2021

289) The British North-American Act — “Only a Dream”

OK, I featured Paul Revere and the Raiders’s “Midnite Ride” (see #109). So, it is only fair that I play the colonially-outfitted British North-American Act — named after the British statute which created Canada in 1867.* Just to note that the lovely “Only a Dream” is not about the time that John Candy invaded Canada.

The [band] was formed in Montreal during the mid 1960s around the guitar duo of Rick Elger and Bob Allen (both British immigrants), Kirk Armstrong on bass, drummer Dave McCall, and Andy Bator on organ, originally from Hungary. They played the local area, infusing their own psychedelic mix into light pop and folk/rock for a year or so, before signing a deal with Now Records. Label brass tried to give the band an identity and had them dress in period costumes, hoping to duplicate the success Paul Revere & The Raiders had enjoyed, albeit a few years earlier. The formula was simple – keep the songs short (the whole album clocked in at under 30 minutes), and the arrangements even simpler with some fuzz guitar and overworked organ.

The band’s lone album has “sunshine pop elements of The Association and The Turtles along with more roots oriented songs a la Buffalo Springfield” ( Mark Deming says in All Music Guide that:

[It is a] gentle and likable fusion of folk-rock and psychedelia, with a bit of garage rock creeping in around the edges. [M]ost . . . follows a gentle[] and tripp[y] path [including] the bittersweet “Only a Dream.” The light, poppy touch of many of these songs makes sound just a bit behind the times for 1969 — while most of their peers were cranking up their amps and dropping acid, these guys were seemingly following more benign pursuits, both musically and recreationally . . . [The album has] engaging and likable pop that deserves a wider hearing among fans of the music of the era.

* As an aside, I was listening to some Revolutionary War re-enactors at (George Washington’s estate) Mount Vernon on Friday night when the family went to see Christmas fireworks. Some English tourists came up and said they wanted to enlist with the British troops! Talk about a British Invasion!

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