Less than a month after hitting Canadian stores, Men In Plaid: A Tribute to the Bay City Rollers has gone into a second pressing.
Yes, you read that correctly.
The Bay City Rollers, the tartan-clad, teen-throb combo of the mid-seventies, who had such hits as Money Honey, Rock And Roll Love Letter,and the ubiquitous Saturday Night,have been honoured with a 17-track collection of covers by a variety of North American pop groups.
The CD is a made-in-Canada affair, the brainchild of Jaimie Vernon, head of the Bullseye Records label.
"Two things prompted this," says Vernon, 36, from his home in Toronto.
"The first was the very positive response we got from the Klaatu tribute CD [ Around the Universe in 80 Minutes] At the same time, my wife Sharon had been involved in organizing the Shang-A-Lang '99 Roller fan convention in Toronto and we thought it would be great to have a CD release to go along with it, as you can't get any of the original Roller recordings."
Vernon managed to round up interest from the North America power-pop subculture through the efforts of Mark Hershberger and Gary Gold, two veteran pop writers sympathetic to the Rollers' oft-maligned output.
Gold is a transplanted Mississauga, Ont., native living in Hoboken, N.J. He and his friends, the New Jersey-based band The Gripweeds, contributed a version of Rock and Roll Love Letter. And it was Gold's e-mail tip that led to the disc's other Canadian musical contributor, the Winnipeg solo recording artist Fudge.
"When I was five or six years old, my two favourite groups were Kiss and the Bay City Rollers," recalls Lee Rosevere, a.k.a. Fudge, who plays all the instruments heard on his drastic overhaul of Love Power.
Originally found on the 1977 LP It's A Game, his version "is sort of how a bad version of Prince might have done it."
"I did it for fun, basically," says Rosevere, 27, an associate producer for CBC Radio's Definitely Not the Opera.
Men In Plaid comes at a time of renewed interest in the Scottish band. There are reports that Courtney Love is buying the film rights to Caroline Sullivan's kiss-and-tell book about the Rollers, Bye Bye Baby.
But it has been a rough road for the Rollers, victims of "one of the biggest rock 'n' roll rip-offs ever." Former manager Tam Paton was convicted in 1982 of "gross indecent acts" with young boys. And millions of pounds worth of recording and merchandising royalties went missing.
The various members of the band live in rented apartments, drive "beat-up Toyotas," and have generally gone through the mill.
Singer Les McKeown, who toured pubs and universities during the early 1990s, candidly admitted in a London Mail interview last April to going through "a downward spiral of drink and drugs" in the years following the split-up.
Stuart (Woody) Wood, did okay, and is a big name on the Celtic music scene.
Original bassist Al Longmuir had a heart attack and subsequent stroke in 1995 that left him partially paralyzed, but he's still able to perform.
On New Year's Eve, four of the best-known members of the lineup reunited to perform an Edinburgh concert, and four more live British dates are slated for February.
A 17-song Rollers CD is planned for release later this year on the Hardive label. It includes 15 tracks recorded in Budokan, Japan, in the 1970s and two new studio tracks recorded last year.
Even with all this activity, though, one might reasonably ask who would bother to buy a tribute recording to an act whose proverbial 15 minutes of fame expired more than 20 years ago.
"Roller fans, for one thing," retorts Vernon. "We weren't sure how they would react, but the response from them has been great. And there's people out there who recognize the fact that a lot of what the group was about was watered down on record."