Helix

Canadian Classic Rock
Biography

Helix

Helix
(Archie Gamble, Daryl Gray, Brian Vollmer, Gary Border, Mark Chitken)

 

Formed in 1975 by singer Brian Vollmer and guitarists Paul Hackman and Brent Doerner. they soon recruited Daryl Gray on bass and Doerner's younger brother Brian on drums. Despite the early use of guitar melodies and keyboards, they quickly developed a "rip yer face off" approach to metal and found themselves touring the Ontario bars for the next couple of years. Their style and sheer under-rated musical talent landed them two records released on an independant label. BREAKING LOOSE, recorded in 1980, was definitely nothing groundbreaking, but tracks like "Don't Hide Your Love" did showcase their raw approach. WHITE LACE AND BLACK LEATHER, released a little over a year later, honestly ... again was nothing special. But songs such as "It's Too Late" and the title track did allowed the group a little more exposure and would help form the sophisticated yet raw approach synonomous in later years with the name 'Helix'.

They were signed to Capitol Records in '82 and cut NO REST FOR THE WICKED in '83. "Heavy Metal Love" and Eddie Schwartz's ("Hit Me With Your Best Shot" fame, also Canadian) "Does A Fool Ever Learn?" became instant radio staples. Other noteable tracks included the absolutely fantastic "Dirty Dog" and a remake of "White Lace and Black Leather". The airplay earned them gigs opening for the likes of Motorhead, Heart and Molly Hatchet on this side of the ocean, while their European tour with Kiss saw them in 13 countries in a month and a half.

'84 saw the release of WALKING THE RAZOR'S EDGE and the hit single "Rock You". Though criticized by some as merely a catchy spelling bee lesson, it shot up the charts. For awhile it seemed like Helix owned the market, with the follow-up "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin" equalling the success of "Rock You". The record also contained some of Hackman's best work, during their remake of A Foot In Coldwater's (also Canadian) "Make Me Do (Anything You Want)" . This exposure took the band overseas touring for the better part of a year, opening for Quiet Riot, Girlschool and Whitesnake.

LONG WAY TO HEAVEN hit the stores in '85 and more pandering to the somewhat less sophisticated American metal audience was evident when "The Kids Are All Shakin' (In The USA)" quickly went gold. The album did show a maturity and more of a hard-edged style as well though. "Deep Cuts The Knife" and "Without You" proved they were capable of tender ballads with a rougher edge, while "This House Is On Fire" stayed true to their grab you by the nuts roots. The group also headlined a North American tour for the first time.

WILD IN THE STREETS hit the shelves nearly two years later. Leaning more towards their heavy roots, the album failed to build on its predecessors' radio momentum. But backed by the title track, "What Ya Bringin' To The Party?" and the remake of Nazareth's "Dream On", still went gold.

Capitol released a compilation in their "Over Sixty Minutes" series in '89 that spanned the group's NO REST, RAZOR'S EDGE and LONG WAY records, as well as the obligatory 'previously unreleased classics' "Everybody Pays The Price" and "Jasmine's Song".

BACK FOR ANOTHER TASTE was cut in 1990 and was their heaviest, but most mature record yet. The Doerner brothers left the group midway through the album. With Greg Hinz as the new drummer, Helix was now a foursome. Behind the controls for the album was veteran producer Tony Bongiovi. Raw bar-room guitars were replaced with a slick combination of overdubs mixed with Vollmer's trademark "in your face" singing, most noteable in "The Storm", "Running Wild In The 21st Century" and "Heavy Metal Cowboys". Their shying away from nonsense just to earn a buck and a regular spot on MTV proved disasterous in the long run. Although BFAT is by far the group's heaviest and best record, Capitol was dissatisfied with the group's new approach and quickly stopped promoting them the way the had.

GOOD TO THE LAST DROP was released in late '91 and although still holding true to what brought them to the dance, some say it lacked the magic that was Helix. Their cross-Canada toured abruptly in July of '92 when Hackman died after the group's van crashed in BC while the group was in the middle of a tour.

The band carried on with Doerner returning on guitars and released IT'S A BUSINESS DOING PLEASURE in '93 on Aquarius Records. The first single, "That Day Is Gonna Come", was a tribute to Hackman with the video footage coming from the guitarist's own home movies shot on the road over the years. Also on the record was a guest appearance by Kim Mitchell on "Sleeping In The Doghouse Again" and a duet with Lee Aaron called "Look Me Straight In The Heart".

DEEP CUTS was issued in '95 and was a greatest hits record which nicely packaged the group's biggest hits over the last 20 years, including a re-released version of "The Kids Are All Shakin", complete with a keyboards arrangement. The group hit the road for a few gigs that summer to promote the record and to let the world Helix was far from dead.

'98 saw the release of HALF ALIVE. Coincidentally, one side of the tape was live ... one wasn't ... One side showed the group's raw power on stage while the other was 5 new tracks. Featured on the record were Vollmer and bassist Daryl Gray, as well as Archie Gamble on drums and guitarists Mark Chitken and Gary Border.

Helix is by far Canada's greatest contribution to the metal scene. Packed with energy, their shows never leave you wanting more. A quarter-century of pounding home the message that Canada rocks has left an indelible mark on people in all four corners of the world. Ambassadors to the heavy metal world, we couldn't have picked better spokesmen that Helix.

Written by Dan Brisebois of
CanConRox

Discography

Breaking Loose
Breaking Loose (1979)

I Could Never Leave
Don't Hide Your Love
Down In The City
Crazy Women
Billy Oxygen
Here I Go Again
You're A Woman Now
Wish I Could Be There

White Lace & Black Leather
White Lace & Black Leather (1982)

Breaking Loose
It's Too Late
Long Distance Heartbreak
Time For A Change
Hangman's Tree
It's What I Wanted
Mainline
Women, Whiskey & Sin
Thoughts That Bleed

No Rest
No Rest for the Wicked (1983)

Does A Fool Ever Learn
Let's All Do It Tonight
Heavy Metal Love
Check Out The Love
No Rest For The Wicked
Don't Get Mad Get Even
Ain't No High Like Rock'n'Roll
Dirty Dog
Never Want To Lose You
White Lace & Black Leather

Razor's Edge
Walkin' the Razor's Edge (1984)

Rock You
Young & Wreckless
Animal House
When The Hammer Falls
Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'
My Kind Of Rock
Make Me Do (Anything You Want)
Six Strings, Nine Lives
You Keep Me Rockin'

Long Way to Heaven
Long Way to Heaven (1985)

The Kids Are All Shakin'
Deep Cuts The Knife
Ride The Rocket
Long Way To Heaven
House On Fire
Christine
Without You (Jasmine's Song)
School Of Hard Knocks
Don't Touch The Merchandise
Bangin' Off-A-The Bricks

Wild in the Streets
Wild in the Streets (1987)

Wild In The Streets
Never Gonna Stop The Rock
Dream On
What Ya Bringin' To The Party
High Voltage Kicks
Give 'Em Hell
Shot Full Of Love
Love Hungry Eyes
She's Too Tough
Kiss It Goodbye

Over 60 Minutes
Over 60 Minutes With (1989)

No Rest For The Wicked
Check Out The Love
Dirty Dog
Give It To You
Young & Wreckless
Deep Cuts The Knife
Animal House
You Keep Me Rockin'
Never Wanna Lose You
Does A Fool Ever Learn
Jaws Of The Tiger
White Lace & Black Leather
Long Way To Heaven
Without You (Jasmine's Song)
Everybody Pays The Price
Heavy Metal Love
Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'
When The Hammer Falls
The Kids Are All Shakin'
Make Me Do (Anything You Want)
Rock You

Back for Another Taste
Back for Another Taste (1990)

The Storm
Running Wild In The 21st Century
That's Life
Breakdown
Heavy Metal Cowboys
Back For Another Taste
Rockin' Rollercoaster
Midnight Express
Good To The Last Drop
Give It To You
Wheels Of Thunder

The Early Years
The Early Years (1991)

I Could Never Leave
Don't Hide Your Love
Down In The City
Crazy Women
Billy Oxygen
Here I Go Again
You're A Woman Now
Wish I Could Be There
Breaking Loose
It's Too Late
Long Distance Heartbreak
Time For A Change
Hangman's Tree
It's What I Wanted
Mainline
Women, Whiskey & Sin
Thoughts That Bleed

Business Doing Pleasure
It's Business Doing Pleasure (1993)

That Day Is Gonna Come
Tug O' War
Wrong Side Of Bed
Can't Even Afford To Die
Misery Loves Company
Look Me Straight In The Heart
Trust The Feeling
Love Is A Crazy Game
Sleepin' In The Doghouse Again
Mad Mad World

Half Alive
Half Alive (1998)

Shock City Psycho Rock
Wrecking Ball
The Pusher
Big Bang Boom
The Same Room
No Rest For The Wicked
Dirty Dog
Running Wild In The 21st Century
Animal House
When The Hammer Falls
Deep Cuts The Knife
Smile
Good To The Last Drop
Heavy Metal Love
Wild In The Streets
Rock You

Deep Cuts
Deep Cuts (1999)

Heavy Metal Love
Don't Get Mad Get Even
Rock You
When The Hammer Falls
Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'
It's Too Late
Deep Cuts The Knife
The Kid's Are All Shakin'
Wild In The Streets
Dream On
Women, Whiskey & Sin
Everybody Pays The Price
Give It To You
Good To The Last Drop

B-Sides
B-Sides (1999)

Jaws Of The Tiger
Danger Zone
S-E-X-Rated
Wanting You
You Got Me Chained
Devil's Gate
Love Is A Crazy Game
Take It Or Leave It
You Got The Love That I Like
Let The Good Times Roll
Like Taking Cand From A Baby
Thinking It Over

When Pigs Fly
Vollmer - When Pigs Fly (1999)

I'm A Live Frankenstein
Life Of The Party
King Of The Hill
Stumblin' Blind
Pissed Off
X-Ray Eyes
F.u.g.l.y.
When Pigs Fly
Good Times Don't Get Better Than This

Cherry Street
Cherry Street with Brian Vollmer (1999)

Under The Gun
Dogtown
The Moon
Dirty Job
Suicide Ride
Heart Of Stone
Me Against The World
Snake Eyes
Black'n Blue
Talk Of The Town


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