The Pukka Orchestra was a Canadian ‘new wave’ band based in Toronto, Canada in the 1980s and 1990s and became an important and revered contributor to the ‘Queen Street’ music scene of that era. The group, led by the late singer/writer Graeme Williamson, released two albums, an EP and several singles and won the CASBY/U-Know Award (CFNY 102 The Edge) as Most Promising Group of the Year in 1985.
In 2023, the Pukka Orchestra completed a new album – Chaos Is Come Again – of reworked, remixed, and remastered tracks from earlier recording sessions that never saw the proper light of day (Dear Harry and Palace of Memory). Chaos Is Come Again is to be released this fall simultaneously with Williamson’s posthumous solo album Because You Were There. The liner notes for Chaos Is Come Again were written by Alan Cross and capture the impact the Pukkas made on the 1980’s national music scene. As Alan summarises it, “Even though (the origins) of these eleven tracks date back more than 40 years, it sounds as good as anything released today. In other words, the music is pure Pukka, no matter how you want to define it”.
Here is what the national critics were saying about the Pukkas in the 1980s:
“Pukka’s tunes tend to focus on what might be termed the underside of human existence, but with sophisticated twists – absurd vignettes, moments in time, odd swatches of emotions, dark secrets, existential barbs.” – Daryl Jung, NOW
“This is a wonderful, original, bright, intelligent, and tasteful work that owes nothing to any trend or prevailing style.” – Greg Quill, Toronto Star
“Pukka Orchestra is exciting because they are intelligent without being pretentious as well as original and extremely entertaining – a rare combination indeed.” – Andrew Dreschel, The Hamilton Spectator
“Pukka Orchestra are making an unforgettable impression on the Canadian music scene. Much of their material is indisputably unique.” – Grant MacGillivray, The Daily News, Halifax
“What makes Pukka Orchestra exciting is that, unlike almost any Canadian band that has emerged in the past four or five years, it is not absorbed, either consciously or unconsciously, with American or British models.” – Liam Lacey, The Globe & Mail
“That a Canadian band this clever, principled and fun can get a decent record deal is cause for celebration in itself.” – Alan Kellogg, The Edmonton Journal
“Cherry Beach Express has been given the kind of exposure many record company publicists would gladly spend the night in the slammer for.” – Jim Hurcomb, Ottawa News
The Pukka Orchestra – Chaos Is Come Again (Coming Soon)
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