"This Beat Goes On/Switchin' To Glide"
The Kings are a Canadian band that originated from Oakville Ontario during the late 1970’s. The original lineup consisted of Dave Diamond (bass and lead vocals), Mister Zero (guitar), Sonny Keyes (keyboards) and Max Styles (drums). Dave and Max had originally performed together in a band while at high school (which broke up), and then Zero was in another band with Max (which also broke up). Dave and Max graduated to the playing in the local GTA bar scene after high school, while Zero ended up in Vancouver. While there, he met Sonny, and together they began composing. They decided to form a band, returned to Ontario, and Dave and Max were recruited. While the band has the usual suspects as influences (Beatles, Stones, Zep, etc), they were determined to write and perform their own music. One way for a band to get some notice (and airplay) back in those days was for it to enter one of their original songs in a contest held by a local radio station. For The Kings, that meant competing in the first ever home-grown competition sponsored by Toronto powerhouse CHUM FM. The band had to compete with 600 other entries, but were successful and came in first. According to Zero, “We got a free lunch, and every label turned us down”.
The band decided to soldier on and record a record on their own as an independent artist. As fate would have it, a chance meeting turned everything around in an instant. The band was working at Nimbus 9, a well known Toronto recording studio at night and during off hours. At the same time, noted Canadian producer Bob Ezrin, fresh from completing Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, happened to be in Toronto, and decided to stop off at the studio. Zero recalls “Our manager played him our stuff and he liked it.” Bob then agreed to work with the band. Initially, he was just going to remix some of their already recorded tracks, but it was decided to redo everything with Bob at the helm. With his support and assistance, the band then signed with Elektra Records. Bob Ezrin’s involvement was a major turning point in the band’s career. He was a mentor as well as acting as producer. As is now well known, The Kings had a massive hit with the song “This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ To Glide”. Zero explained that originally, they were “two songs that needed something as they weren’t enough on their own. So we thought it might be fun to put them together. That was how Bob heard them but he said something wasn’t right so Dave rewrote the music and Zero redid the lyrics. Add Bob’s incredible production and you have a hit”.
“This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ To Glide” was a staple on the radio during the summer of 1980. The song was a hit right across North America, with heavy airplay here in Southern Ontario. There were a number of musical aspects to the song that contributed to its success. The muscular guitar riff to start the song, the dance-floor friendly tempo and the 1960’s influenced keyboard sound instantly grab the listener’s attention. The band’s look and the song structure were a perfect for the nascent New Wave music scene in North America. The transition from “This Beat Goes On” to “Switchin’ To Glide” is a highlight of the song, with a band-shouted chorus leading to different series of chords, followed by the keyboardist playing a descending single tone (I believe using a “Mini-Moog” synthesizer) to introduce the next segment of the song. It should be noted that the song’s tempo never shifts. The song enjoyed a lengthy stay of 23 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100. (Here is a link to short video about the song courtesy of Behind The Vinyl Boom 97.3 https://www.boom973.com/2016/10/11/behind-the-vinyl-this-beat-goes-on-switchin-to-glide-the-kings/With the success of their hit single, The Kings found themselves on the concert circuit opening for some the bigger acts of the day, and were invited to perform on American Bandstand. They also obtained a coveted spot on the bill for the famous Heatwave Festival, which was noteworthy for its emphasis on featuring New Wave and Punk artists. As Zero related to me “Heatwave promoter John Brower was a guy we met around town and he thought we were good enough to be on the bill. We played last because we wanted to be under the lights at night. We’re so glad we have the movie of that night; it shows us at a specific moment and time, rocking out” (The Kings portion of the concert was filmed). With their hit single, The Kings enjoyed great sales and radio play both here in Canada and south of the border. They continued to record, but were not able to duplicate the success they had with "This Beat Goes On/Switchin' To Glide". There are a few versions of the song; it was included on the band's debut album "The Kings Are Here" and of course was released as a single. The Kings certainly hit it out of the park with this song, and it deservedly has established itself as a Canadian summer classic. The Kings are still active, and of course have their own website if you would like to know more about the band.