“Hey we found a dead mouse in our beer, eh? That means you owe us a free case.”
Canadian rock bands are finally getting some credit: The Arcade Fire, New Pornographers, Broken Social Scene, Fiery Furnaces and Stars, to name but a few.
It wasn’t always so.
There was a time, not too long ago, when saying you were a ‘fan of Canadian music’ was like saying you were a ‘fan of Canadian food’. People didn’t know what you were talking about. So I thought it would be fun to ridicule…oops, sorry…trace the history of Canada’s contribution to rock music.
The stars of note for this decade include, but are certainly not limited to, the following: The Four Lads, Guy Lombardo, Moe Koffman and, but of course, the smooth lounge stylings of Mr. Robert Goulet.
Getting better, here. Let’s start off with Chad Allen and the Expressions who’s only hit was a cover of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates ‘Shakin’ All Over”. Then along came some actual talent with Leonard Cohen, members of The Band, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot , Neil Young, John Kay (Steppenwolf), the Guess Who and, erm, Andy Kim (of Rock Me Gently, fame). Wow, not bad, eh?
Here’s where it starts to get ugly, folks!
In mid-1970 or so, the Canadian government introduced new ‘Canadian Content’ regulations, requiring AM radio stations to devote 30 per cent of their musical selections to Canadian content. This led to a flood of new bands; some were decent, most of them were sub par and others quite laughable.
The drum roll, please!
Canada’s very own songbird Anne Murray came to prominence during this decade, and her soft rock would echo in elevators across Canada for decades.
The Irish Rovers were kind of fun, albeit kind of throwaway and a bit of a novelty act, in my opinion.
Other bands of note from this decade: April Wine, Triumph, Trooper, SAGA, Prism, Chilliwack, Max Webster, RUSH (hey, I STILL like these guys! Just not anything past 1982.), Bachman Turner Overdrive.
Nearing the end of the 70’s, artists such as Brian (or is it Bryan, I can never remember) Adams, the male equivalent of Anne Murray, pranced onto the scene, as did Nick Gilder, Doucette, Dan Hill and…Sweeney Todd.
The punk explosion in the late 70’s actually inspired some talented kids to release some albums. Teenage Head, Forgotten Rebels (talent debatable, great energy, though!), Nash The Slash, D.O.A., Spoons, Men Without Hats (say what you will, these guys knew how to write a pop song!), Blue Peter.
Some of the embarrassments of the decade are (and there were many):
Platinum Blonde, Glass Tiger, Honeymoon Suite, Cony Hatch, Helix, Sheriff, Corey Hart, Barnie Bentall, Frozen Ghost and, of course, Sass Jordan and the Cowboy Junkies.
Actually, the Cowboy Junkies weren’t all that bad, were they?
In 1990’s England, the underground rock explosion was kicked off by bands like the Stone Roses.
In America it was Nirvana.
And up in the Great White North it was the Bare Naked Ladies! Makes sense, eh?
Seriously, Canada produced some decent talent in the 90’s. Bands such as the perpetually annoying Crash Test Dummies, Sloan (REALLY good band, by the way), Doughboys (ditto!), Alanis Morrisette, Rufus Wainright, Sarah McLaughlin, and the Tragically Hip were all very popular bands in their native land and some, like Alanis Morissette, made a huge dent here in the US.
It was during this decade that Canada produced their biggest abomination since Anne Murray, however. She is the ANTICHRIST, and she goes by the name of Celine Dion. There is a Canadian folk tale which states that those who listen to Celine Dion for more than 2 hours will develop a Stigmata.
Well, we’ve come full circle, folks. Hope I haven’t pissed off too many of my Canadian allies. Canadians have always had a good sense of humor aboot themselves, eh? The people, the beer, the comedy, the scenery and, yes even the music, make Canada the wonderfully unique and proud (somewhat, anyway) country it has always been.
Plus I have the right. I’m half Canadian.
So take off, eh?