Dr. Music (who contributed one song to the Canadian Mint compilation I posted last year) were a jazzy r&b collective masterminded by Doug "Dr. Music" Riley (see also: the From Canada With Love LP). Riley, who passed away in 2007, cast a huge shadow across the Canadian popular music scene of the '60s, '70s and '80s in his multiple roles as a composer, arranger, pianist, organist and producer. Born in Toronto in 1945, he studied at many of Canada's most prestigious classical music academies before being bitten by the jazz and rock 'n' roll bugs as a teenager. By the time he turned 20 he was playing in a Toronto r&b group named The Silhouettes and writing advertising jingles to make some cash on the side. Throughout the '70s he worked constantly as a musical director for television shows, record producer, songwriter, sideman in pop, classical and jazz groups, arranger (his first big break was working on Ray Charles' 1969 album Doing His Thing) and erstwhile leader of Dr. Music, which is where he gained the nickname. By the time the '90s rolled around Riley had shifted his focus to live performances, and by the end of the decade he'd semi-retired, but as late as 2006 he was still playing jazz festivals and touring occasionally.
As the the other members of Dr. Music...well, there were literally dozens over the years, and you're crazy if you think I'm going to list them all here, but some of the more prominent were bassist Don Thompson, singer Dianne Brooks, drummer Terry Clarke, singer/guitarist Doug Mallory, singer/saxophonist Steve Kennedy (who was also in Motherlode) and multi-instrumentalist Keith Jollimore. The group itself was originally put together in 1969 by Riley in order to perform on CTV's "The Ray Stevens Show," and went on to record three albums for GRT between 1972 and 1974 (plus a best-of in '75) before everybody went their separate ways, although did Riley resurrect the Dr. Music moniker long enough to record one last album in 1984.
Dr. Music's self-titled debut LP was recorded throughout 1971 and 1972 at Toronto Sound Studios, with production and arrangements by Riley and Kennedy, and engineering handled by Peter Houston (who recorded the original Hockey Night In Canada theme song) and Terry Brown. It's got a very early-'70s sound, with jazz, rock, funk and r&b fighting it out for space, often within the same song. "Rollin' Home," the first track on the album, is a funky number with a few Native touches sprinkled throughout and a nice extended guitar solo. "Try A Little Harder" is an Elton John-inspired stomper, while "Dreams" is a ballad with a definite cabaret flavour and some unexpected proggy touches. The manic workout "Don't Wait Too Long," is back towards the r&b side of the group's sound, and the album's closer, "Road To Love," is an epic soft rock ballad.
Try A Little Harder
Don't Wait Too Long
Road To Love