If you were into Canadian alternative in the 80s, you would have known about Toronto’s Pukka Orchestra, who was formed in 1981 and released a fabulous self-titled record on the Solid Gold label in 1984. Known by many as the “pink album,” it went out of print and disappeared when Solid Gold went out of business, even as the album was selling across the country. It wasn’t until 2000 that it was resurrected on CD.
A million people went through this group during its existence, but there was always a core that featured guitarist and singer Graeme Williamson. Fans with long memories might remember Graeme’s battle with kidney issues while he was visiting family in Scotland. It got bad real fast (the condition was due to a birth defect) and a benefit was organized by some of his fellow Queen Street West friends to raise money for his treatment. He eventually had a transplant that was followed by a little setback, but as far as I know, he made a complete recovery.
Damn, these were good songs.
Tom Robinson originally released this song under the title “Atmospherics.” The Pukkas gave it their own spin.
This song greatly annoyed Toronto Police because it broke to light a particular local story of police brutality.
Graeme’s health problems continued with multiple infections and transplants. While he never performed with the Pukkas again, he acquired an MA in creative writing and tutored at the University of Glasgow.
He died of a stroke June 25 at the age of 71.
RIP Graeme Williamson of 80s Toronto band Pukka Orchestra, whose debut album is a Cdn classic (h/t @nicojennings). Had a radio hit about Toronto police brutality, on 1984’s “Cherry Beach Express”: “52 Division / handcuffed to a chair…” https://t.co/GxUHZIoJBe— Michael Barclay (@mmmbarclay) June 26, 2020