Heat Exchange and Their Lost Debut Album Reminiscence.

Heat Exchange’s root’s can be traced to a Toronto high school, in the late-sixties. That was when four school friends decided to form a blues band, which they named Cloud. Just a couple of years later, and Cloud were one of the top bands in Toronto. 

Several record labels were chasing Cloud’s signature. Major and independent labels vied for Heat Exchange’s signature. At one point, RCA looked like securing the signature of Cloud. Then at the last minute,  Yorkville Records trumped RCA’s offer with what saxophonist Craig Carmody called: “a phenomenal offer.” It was too good to turn down, so Cloud signed on the dotted line. That was when Yorkville Records discovered another band called The Clouds. So to avoid any confusion, the record company suggested that Cloud should change their name.

After drawing up a shortlist, Yorkville Records’ favoured the name  Heat Exchange. This they felt was the perfect name for the label’s newest latest signing. However, as recording began, the band hadn’t settled on a new name. Eventually, the band adopted the name Heat Exchange.  It was meant to feature on their debut album Reminiscence. This should’ve been the start of the rise and rise of Heat Exchange. However, Reminiscence was never released and was just another chapter in the story of Heat Exchange, which began in the late sixtes.

Cloud were formed in a Toronto high school in the late sixties, when four school decided to form a blues band, Cloud. Its initial lineup featured a rhythm section of drummer and vocalist Marty Morin, bassist Ralph Smith and guitarist Neil Chapman. They were joined by keyboardist and harmonica player Gord McKinnon. The nascent band made one of its first performances in the high school cafeteria. Watching Cloud play was a future member of the band.

The new addition was saxophonist and flutist Craig Carmody. He was invited to join Cloud, and although he was a couple of year older than the rest of the band accepted the invitation. Now Cloud began working out how to incorporate the saxophone to their existing song. Soon, Cloud had successfully incorporated the  saxophone into their sound. Soon, though, five became six as Cloud expanded their lineup again.

This time, Cloud decided to add a new lead vocalist to the band. Up until then, drummer Marty Morin had been the lead vocalist. It wasn’t easy for him combining the two roles. Eventually, the members of Cloud decided that it would be best if the added a lead vocalist and allowed Marty Morin to concentrate on his duties as drummer. So Cloud began the search for a new vocalist.

Eventually, they had settled on a shortlist of potential vocalists. The next step was auditioning them. However, when Mike Langford began to sing, the rest of Cloud new they had their new vocalist. Cloud were now a sextet.

With Mike Langford now Cloud’s new vocalist, the new lineup of the band began looking for somewhere to rehearse. Finding a rehearsal space wasn’t going to be easy. Fortunately, Cloud met Blaine Pritchett, a familiar face in the Toronto music scene. He owned a local music shop, and allowed Cloud to rehearse in the basement.

In the music shop’s basement, Cloud began to hone their sound and write their own songs. This took time, practice and dedication. Gradually, though, Cloud became a tight band and new sound began to take shape. Now Cloud were ready to make tentative steps onto the Toronto’s live scene.

Cloud were determined to things properly. They wanted to be taken seriously, so registered with the local branch of the Musician’s Union. Next stop, was a booking agency, who Cloud hoped would get them some bookings.

The booking agent came up trumps, and soon, Cloud had several bookings. This included a booking at the three day Rock Hill music festival. 

Despite being relatively new on the live scene, Cloud lucked out and found themselves playing on the main stage at the Rock Hill music festival. That day Cloud gave what was a career defining performance.

A couple of days after Cloud returned home from the Rock Hill music festival, Craig Carmody received a phone call from Blaine Pritchett. He had taken on the roll of Cloud’s road manager and sound man since the band made their live debut. Blaine Pritchett explained that he had received a phone call from Roland Paquin, who managed many of the Toronto’s top bands. Roland Paquin had heard Cloud at the Rock Hill music festival and like what he heard. So much so, that he wanted to become Cloud’s manager. Things were looking up for Cloud.

A couple of days later and a meeting was scheduled between  Cloud Roland Paquin. After listening to what Roland Paquin had to say, Cloud agreed that he would become their new manager. With an agreement in place Roland Paquin went in search for a record company to sign Cloud.

Over the next weeks and months, Roland Paquin brought record companies to hear Cloud. They would play a selection of songs that Cloud and Roland Paquin had picked earlier. These songs showcased then band’s considerable talents. One of the labels that came to hear Cloud were RCA. Having heard Cloud, were keen to sign the band. 

Despite this, Roland Paquin the Canadian label Arc Sound to hear Cloud play. By then, Cloud were leaning towards signing to RCA. Still Cloud agreed to play for Bill Gilliland and Richard Gael and from Arc Sound. After Cloud band had finished playing, Roland Paquin headed out to wine and dine the record company executives. Later that night, Roland Paquin came baring news Craig Carmody.

Roland Paquin told Craig Carmody that Arc Sound’s record company Yorkville Records were interested in signing Cloud. They had spotted Cloud’s potential and really wanted to sign the band.  Yorkville Records’ offer was an indication of how keen they were to sign the band. However, the offer came with conditions.

Yorkville Records wanted the band to concentrate all their efforts of recording album. This meant stopping playing live until the album was recorded. In return, the members of Cloud would receive a salary that would allow them to live while they practised and then recorded the album. Then once the album was released. If Cloud agreed, they could use the label’s  recording studios and would be assigned a full-time producer. It was an incredible offer and was thought to be the biggest recording contract offered to any Canadian band up until then. So it was no surprise that Cloud were keen to sign. So Cloud put pen to paper, and signed on the dotted line. However, it soon became apparent there was a problem with the band’s name.

It turned out that another band had released an album as The Clouds. This could lead to record buyers confusing the two bands. So  a decision was made to rename the band. The members of Cloud drew up a list of names, but when it came to choosing the name, it was Yorkville Records that was calling the shots. They eventually settled on the name Heat Exchange.

By then, Heat Exchange began work on their debut album Reminiscence. Bill Gilliland was named the executive producer while Richard Gael took charge of production. The two executives played a hands on roll, helping choose the material for the album. Eventually, ten tracks for the album were chosen and Heat Exchange were ready to begin work on what became Reminiscence.

Each day, Heat Exchange arrived at the studio, at 10am and rehearsed until 6pm. Some nights, the band used their key to let themselves into the studio, where they continued to work late into the night. Then at the end of the week, Heat Exchange received their salary which didn’t amount to much. However, for six young men still living at home, they were living the dream.

Especially as Heat Exchange moved to Manta Sound, which was then Toronto’s top recording studio. That was where the band met David Green who owned Manta Sound. He was also the in-house engineer David Green, and would by Heat Exchange’s side as began recording ten tracks written by the band. This was just as well, as Heat Exchange were working without a producer.  Despite this,  the band recorded  a rough mix of Reminiscence.

This rough mix of Reminiscence David Green told Heat Exchange had been played to executives at major labels in America. They liked the album, but wanted to know more about the band. Two questions that kept coming up were had Heat Exchange had a hit single and what were they like live? By then, Heat Exchange hadn’t played live for over a year, and hadn’t released a single. So Heat Exchange decided to release a single. This should generate interest in the album when it was released.

Heat Exchange decided to choose the most commercial song on the album in the hope of it beaming a FM hit. Can You Tell Me fitted the bill, and was released with Inferno on the B-Side. It proved popular in some Canadian cities, and is thought to have reached the top ten in at least one city. However, it failed to reach the Canadian charts.  The problem was that Yorkville Records didn’t seem willing to promote the single properly. That was worrying.

Having failed to write a FM hit, Heat Exchange were encouraged to write an AM hit. The song they came up was Scorpio Lady, which showcased a more poppy sound. On the B-Side Heat Exchange added Reminiscence. This Heat Exchange hoped would provide them with that elusive single. Especially since  Yorkville Records seemed to be reigning in their expenditure.

Originally, the label had been so keen to sign Heat Exchange that they outbid RCA. Now though, everything had changed for Heat Exchange. They were no longer receiving their salary from Yorkville Records and had to return to playing live to make ends meet. Heat Exchange travelled far and wide playing live. Meanwhile, the label wanted the band to come up with a hit single. That was despite commercial success eluding their two previous singles.  Despite this, Heat Exchange decided to write and record one more single.

They were hoping it would be third time lucky when She Made Me All Alone was released as a single. On the flip-side was Philosophy. When the single was released, it failed to make any impression on the Canadian charts. For two members of Heat Exchange that was the final straw.

For two members of the band, Heat Exchange’s dream of becoming a successful band was almost over. Saxophonist and flautist Craig Carmody decided to leave Heat Exchange. So did bassist Ralph Smith. This proved to be the beginning of the end for Heat Exchange.

The other four members  of Heat Exchange started to get involved with another group Truck. They began to tour with Truck. For Heat Exchange, the dream was over. Their debut album Reminiscence was never released by Yorkville Records. Record buyers never got the opportunity to hear Heat Exchange at their creative zenith on Reminiscence. 

Sadly, Heat Exchange never returned to the recording studio together, and Reminiscence was the only album the band recorded. That was a great shame, as Heat Exchange were a hugely talented band who had the potential to go on to become one of the most successful Canadian bands of the early seventies. They might have fulfilled their potential if they had signed to RCA.

Instead, Heat Exchange signed to Yorkville Records and spent the best part of a year recording album. During that period, the band weren’t playing live, and instead, were receiving a salary from  Yorkville Records. However, after Heat Exchange  failed to delver a hit single, Yorkville Records began to lose interest in the band. Their singles weren’t promoted properly, and eventually, they stopped receiving their weekly salary. This resulted in Heat Exchange heading back out on the road.

As Heat Exchange toured the length and breadth Canada trying to eke out a living, Yorkville Records were still wanting the band to deliver a hit single. By then, Craig Carmody the elder statesmen of the band was looking to future. He was about to get married, and needed a steady income. Craig decided to leave Heat Exchange. So did Ralph Smith. Suddenly, six became four and the writing was on the wall for Heat Exchange.

Meanwhile, the other four members  of Heat Exchange started to get involved with another group Truck. They began to tour with Truck. For Heat Exchange, it was the end of the line. Heat Exchange’s debut album Reminiscence was never released by Yorkville Records. 

Sadly, Reminiscence lay unreleased for forty-five years and nobody got to hear Heat Exchange’s genre-melting album. Heat Exchange took as their starting point hard rock, and added to the musical melting pot folk rock, funk, fusion, jazz and progressive rock. Heat Exchange switched between and fused these disparate genres over the tracks on Reminiscence. It showcases truly talented band who were who had recorded an almost flawless album of hard rocking, catchy, complex, melodic and memorable music. That album was Reminiscence, which was belatedly released in 2017. At last, Heat Exchange’s long lost classic album Reminiscence eventually saw the light of day, and is a reminder of one of Canada’s great lost groups in the early seventies, looked destined for greatness.

Heat Exchange and Their Lost Debut Album Reminiscence.



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