The Ugly Ducklings were a five-piece garage rock group based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, most notable during the mid 1960s.
They released six singles in 1966 and 1967 on the Yorktown and Yorkville labels, and one album, Somewhere Outside in 1967. In the summer and fall of 1967, the band's fifth single "Gaslight" became a Top 40 hit across Canada, peaking at #17 on the RPM Chart, and reaching #1 on CHUM 1050 in Toronto on October 2 that year, displacing The Rolling Stones' 2-sided hit, "Dandelion" b/w "We Love You". Their first three singles also made the local 1050 CHUM AM charts in Toronto.
The group was formed in 1965 with Dave Bingham (lead vocals, harmonica), Glynn Bell (rhythm guitar), Roger Mayne (lead guitar), John Read (bass), and Robin Boers (drums). In their early days their music was partially influenced by The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds and The Kinks, however the band was still able to create a rough individual sound typified by their solid garage-punk original material and raw delivery.
The Ugly Ducklings recordings have since been featured on several 1960s garage rock compilation albums, including the Garage Beat 66, Pebbles and Nuggets series. Perhaps in response to their wider recognition via these compilation albums, the band released an album in 1980 called Off the Wall (a year after the Michael Jackson album) that included new recordings of two of their 1960s songs "Nothin'" and "Hey Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut", and nine new original songs.
In 1998, three CDs of the band's material were released in a three-month period. The first release, Too Much Too Soon, on Pacemaker featured all the material from "Somewhere Outside" with a couple of extra unreleased tracks from the album sessions and an unreleased mix of "Gaslight". Some tracks are true stereo, having been re-mixed with the original 4 Tracks in 1981 and some are original mono mixes. The Pacemaker release went out of print quickly due to licensing issues, but was the only compilation approved and authorized by the Group. Another Canadian label, Unidisc reissued both "Somewhere Outside" and the 1982 "The Ugly Ducklings" album. The Unidisc "Somewhere Outside" suffers from a botched re-mastering job that changed the original sound of the Band, by adding Echo effects and changing the mix of the guitars and vocals, so that the overall sound of the band was watered down from the gritty feel of the original discs. Their release of "The UGLY DUCKLINGS" self-titled fared slightly better, but did not include the "Single Version" of their biggest hit, "Gaslight". Instead the "New York Mix" of the tune was used, which ironically gives some insight into the excellent and intuitive Production work of Bill Guilliland & Brian Ahern, who added to the original Production of producer Bob Halley, to create the Hit Version. As of 2016, the original mono mix of "Somewhere Outside" is still not widely available on CD. In 2006, an exact reproduction of the original mono Somewhere Outside LP was reissued by Sundazed Records featuring the original cover art and tracks re-mastered by Singer Dave Bingham. But it was quickly withdrawn from release due to licensing issues. A bootleg CD of the mono "Somewhere Outside" also appeared, featuring 7 bonus tracks. These bonus tracks included 3 tracks from the 1982 compilation LP, the single tracks "Gaslight" and "Rimb Nugget", as well as an unreleased alternate mix of "Postman's Fancy". This bootleg CD was issued by a company called "Beat Records" and features reasonable sound quality, but should not be confused with lead singer David Bingham's private CD reissue of "Somwehere Outside". There has also been an unauthorized vinyl reissue of "Somewhere Outside" that is in mono and on the "Yorktown" label. This issue is a direct reproduction of the original album, and is identifiable by a distinct "pink" caste in the color of the Album Cover. It features quite reasonable audio quality that is very close to the original.
A previously unreleased live version of "I'm a Man" (recorded in the band's spacious rehearsal hall in Scarborough, Ontario in November, 1966) was issued by Sundazed Records in 2004. In 2007, YouTube videos of the band, were posted; including a performance of a previously unreleased song, "Hangman", from early 1968 and a "live" performance of "Nothin'" at the Peel Pub in Toronto in 2000. In 2007, lead singer Dave Bingham personally made available five unreleased albums by the band on eBay, as well as up-dated versions of "Somewhere Outside", "Off The Wall" and "S.N.A.F.U." All of these releases featured re-mastered sound and Graphics by Bingham and were dedicated to the memory of Roger Mayne (a most prodigious progenitor of the fuzztone guitar), who died of a heart attack in September 2004.
In 2007, East Coast CBC Radio Host & Journalist Bob Mersereau released his book, The Top 100 Canadian Albums. The book was a Top 100 list assembled by polling 600 singers, songwriters, musicians, producers, journalists and collectors from across Canada, asking for their top 10 Canadian Albums. Each #1 received 10 points, #2 - 9 points, #3 - 8 - etc... down to 1 point for #10. The points were tallied and counted. The Ugly Ducklings' "Somewhere Outside" came in at No. 72, right in there with the likes of Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, The Guess Who, April Wine, Bruce Cockburn and other big-name Canadian musical acts. Three years later, Mersereau released his The Top 100 Canadian Singles compiled using the same method; The Ugly Ducklings' "Nothin'", which was recorded for only $330, came in at No. 33.
In July 2011, Pacemaker Records of Toronto released 2 CDs of Ugly Ducklings material. "Somewhere Inside" ( a "Live" radio show from Jan. 1967) & "Thump & Twang" a "Live" demo of the group from early 1968, featuring Mike McKenna on lead guitar. The disc featuring McKenna includes versions of "Hangman" & "You Can't Judge A Book" as heard on their respective videos on YouTube. The "Somewhere Inside" disc features a remastered version of the "Live recording of "I'm A Man" along with unreleased demos & "Live" performances and a Radio interview with CHUM Radio DJ Bob MacAdorey on his short-lived Sunday night show, called "Talent In Toronto", from early 1967.
In November 2015 Lead Singer Dave Bingham released an Autobiography called "Noise From The North End" through Friesen Press, in British Columbia, Canada. The Book is a complete history of the band and his subsequent career in Canada and is available in E-book format, or as a physical book through the Friesen Press website, Amazon & Google Plus."Gaslight" b/w "Nothin'": Arc Records, 1976
"Just In Case You Wonder" b/w "Tobacco Road" (performed by The Nashville Teens): Arc Records, 1979.
"Nothin'" b/w "I Can Tell": Sundazed Records, 2000.
Somewhere Outside: York Town 1967
Off The Wall: Razor Records 1980
The Ugly Ducklings - (greatest hits): York Town Records 1981
Ducktales: Freeway Records 1998
Too Much Too Soon: Pacemaker Records 1998
Somewhere Outside: Unidisc Records 1998
The Ugly Ducklings: Unidisc Records 1998
Ducks On C.H.U.M.: Freeway Records 2007
Thump & Twang: Freeway Records 2007
Metamorphosis: Freeway Records 2007
Station Days: Freeway Records 2007
Somewhere Outside - The complete Sessions: Freeway Records 2007
Off The Wall: Freeway Records 2007
S.N.A.F.U.: Freeway Records 2008
Into The Seventies: Freeway Records 2009 (compilation of "Station Days" & "Backtracks" by PAPA GREY)
Somewhere Inside: Pacemaker Records 2011
Thump & Twang: Pacemaker Records 2011
21st Century Garage: Freeway Records 2007