Peter Elkas – Bob Mersereau’s Top 100 Canadian Singles

Bob Mersereau’s Top 100 Canadian Singles

Peter Elkas Repeat Offender
By Bob Mersereau

When a disc’s opening track includes background vocals that go “shoo-bop-shoo-bop”, I know I’m gonna love it. Elkas, ex-Local Rabbit and a member in good standing of The Joel Plaskett Emergency, has delivered a smooth soul tour-de-force on his third solo disc. This is a disc that takes you directly to that warm spot in your heart, the place where you hold your deep abiding love of music.

For anyone who remembers 70’s vinyl and radio, this is as glorious as grabbing a favourite 45 with a Hot Wax/Invictus label, or playing that Boz Scaggs album for the first time in years. If you’re the new breed of vinyl buyer, yes, this is EXACTLY what they sounded like in the day, with all the polish and care the songs deserved.

Of course, it is today, and Elkas made much of the music in his basement, but it still has the great horn riffs, the infectious rhythms, the spot-on backing vocals. While soul is certainly felt throughout, it’s really pop song craft that’s celebrated, with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, no clear homage. Really, there’s nothing here that screams retro either, it’s just returning to a high-water mark for track-making. But there’s no ignoring Elkas’s goal: the ten-track disc is divided into Side 1 and 2 even on the CD, and New Scotland Records (Plaskett’s boutique label) is focused on vinyl.

Side 2’s lead track, Melody, is a lesson in how a gem is put together. It starts off a capella, except for a cymbal beating, and then a chunky rhythm guitar, bass and electric piano join. By the first bridge, strings come in, and at the chorus, the sweet backing vocals arrive. Second verse, same as the first, as Curtis Mayfield nods approval, and the Funk Brothers claim kinship. A fuzzy guitar solo leads to some call-and-response with the singers, who may or may not be The Temptations. Rinse, wash, repeat, fade out. Five minutes of bliss. Each track is worthy of such dissection. Special kudos go to Elkas’s vocals as well, heart-tugging and awesome. <3 <3 <3.