Yesterday a re-recording of the Wonderful Grand Band’s “The Babylon Mall” was released. The new version features some of the original Wonderful Grand Band members, along with This Hour Has 22 Minutes comedian Mark Critch on lead vocals, accompanied by award-winning musicians Amelia Curran and Geraldine Hollett.
The saucy 1981 hit about the Avalon Mall starred actor and comedian Tommy Sexton on lead vocals. In the ‘80s music video for the song (below), a vivacious Sexton bounces around the stage in waist-high jeans that look like they don’t have an ounce of stretch in ‘em, and an unbuttoned, silky bomber jacket.
The video sometimes cuts to two stuffed squirrels crooning into microphones, then back to Sexton miraculously high-kicking in time to the music in his stiff denim. Sexton’s performance manages to be both expertly executed and silly beyond belief.
The new music video stars actor and former Wonderful Grand Band frontman, Greg Malone. Sexton and Malone worked together on a number of projects, including the infamous sketch-comedy show Codco. After Sexton passed away in the early ‘90s, from complications having to due with AIDS, Malone honoured his memory by campaigning for HIV and AIDS education.
The new video alternates between footage of Malone scurrying around the Avalon Mall as the Codco character Mr. Budgell, and shots of the musicians recording. Malone is hilarious as the stingy Mr. Budgell, he’s full of campy eye-brow raises and exaggerated shoulder shrugs that feel in the foolish spirit of the original song.
While Critch’s in-studio performance is more subdued than Sexton’s energetic stage show, he borrows hand-gestures from the ‘80s video, making it clear that he’s channelling Sexton. A jacket like the one Sexton wore in the first “Babylon Mall” video is hung on the wall in the back of the studio, a subtle tribute.
The new “Babylon Mall” song can be purchased for $1.39 at www.babylonmall.ca for one year beginning December 7th 2017. All the proceeds from every sale of the song will be donated to the Tommy Sexton Centre to support emergency short-term accommodations for people in need of shelter, with priority going to people living with HIV or AIDS.