If you've never heard of the 1975 K-Tel release Rock Fantasy, you're not alone. The mid-'70s obscurity was a children's record full of non-hits such as Bernie Byrd's "It's the Only Way to Fly" and "The Tale of a Donkey" by Jack Kass and the Muleskinners. That might not ring many bells, but Julian Lawrence is a fan. "My rock 'n' roll woman introduced me to it about 10 years ago when she found it in a thrift store in Winnipeg on 8-track," Lawrence told the Straight. The Vancouver musician and cartoonist was hooked by Rock Fantasy's tales of a land where, as he puts it, "animals are people and people are the animals."
"It's amazing. There's such a variety of songs on there," Lawrence said. "It goes from bluegrass-country to heavy rock." Sounds like perfect fodder for a tribute concert. In fact, Lawrence and his band, July Fourth Toilet, will perform a pair of them at the WISE Hall on July 23: an all-ages 5 p.m. show and a licensed 9 p.m. set. The 18-member ensemble will appear in full animal costumes, and preteen rock sensations the Penguins open both shows.