Back in the early '70s, when he was 22 years old, Vancouver singer-songwriter Duane O'Kane met fellow tunesmith Colin Brown on a train rolling through the Canadian Rockies.
Brown was visiting from England, and the two hit it off both musically and personally, so plans were made for O’Kane and his singing partner and writer Lorraine Pilling to join the Brit in London to pursue their dreams of a career in the music business.
The three musicians--along with instrumentalist José Gross--ended up recording nine tracks of psychedelic folk under the name Catseye.
Ninety-nine copies of the Catseye album were manufactured in 1973 with plain sleeves so O’Kane could shop copies around to A&R reps and record labels, but despite interest from radio legend John Peel and a connection with the Rocket Record Company, co-owned by Elton John, nothing came of the release.
Until last Monday.
On December 27, 2021, O'Kane announced the release of Catseye on his Facebook page:
"Catseye eventually became a distant, yet cherished memory until 10 years ago when Voluntary In Nature divined one of the original 99 vinyl records in a rural Alberta thrift store and set out to find more about this mysterious album," reads the posting. "From London town to the Canadian Prairies, oh, how these artefacts travel. With limited credits, no printed jacket, and a certified off-the-grid status on the world wide web, it took many years to find the elusive writer, listed only as 'O’Kane,' and their whereabouts.
"Cosmically or comically perhaps, we both lived in Vancouver, BC at the time. Needless to say, our minds were blown on a great many levels, but enough story, the music is finally ready for its audience! Please enjoy this intimate, progressive, and lysergic psychedelic masterpiece."
You can check out the Catseye album here.
And speaking of Duane O'Kane music that nobody's heard for a while, I just dug up a review of a five-song cassette that I wrote for the Georgia Straight's Independent Records & Demo Tapes column back on April 22, 1983. (That issue also included my interviews with the Spinners, Chris de Burgh, and Images in Vogue, and reviews of singles and demos by El Dorado, The Living Room, Alec Newell, Kevin Hutchings, the Golden Calgarians, Pete Mason, and Tony Dominelli. Man, was I ever prolific back then.)
This tape is a portion of an LP O'Kane just finished recording at Legend Studios in Washington with former BTO guitarist Randy Bachman. According to O'Kane, three major labels have shown interest in his tunes--Polygram U.S., Capitol Canada, and RCA. Canada. And that isn't surprising considering his five songs sound like healthy radio material.
O'Kane's singing is definitely OK, particularly on the tape's most impressive cut, "Picking Up the Pieces" and his lush, keyboard-based sound is especially catchy on "Hold Your Candle High". The latter tune just reeks with commercial potential, and I expect that the record company that finally does sign O'Kane will not be sorry.
Geez, with brilliantly written endorsements like that, how is Duane O'Kane not a household name?