Friday, August 24, 2007

O, Canada!

Sure, it's easy to dog Canada, Canadians, Canadian music (two words: Nickelback's "Rockstar"), but they've given us a few good records, at least. Besides the '80s output of Rush, I mean, 'cause that's in its own category: LOVE LOVE LOVE '80s Rush, especially '84's Grace Under Pressure and '85's Power Windows. Anyway, when I attended Purdue in the late '80s, we got our dorm cable off satellite, but the university was too cheap to unscramble MTV. Ergo, our music video channel was also Canada's: MuchMusic. At the time, it was gloriously, gleefully schizoid, and paid a lot more attention to the underground than its south-of-the-border cousin. I learned of a fair amount of artists via MuchMusic, and some of 'em I even still fancy.

Grapes of Wrath (that name!) are a prime example: in the US they had the slightest taste of college radio success, but in their native Canada they were not quite stars, but semi-names at least. They made tuneful, jangly pop from the R.E.M. school, and wrote some decent songs; "O Lucky Man" was always my favorite.

I also discovered the incredibly, delightfully weird Dalbello thanks to MuchMusic. Had she come around just a bit later, she might have slotted in nicely alongside Tori Amos and Bjork (with an added soupcon of Heart's Nancy Wilson - and Heart, in fact, later covered her "Black on Black" as "Black on Black II"). Her "Tango" sounded like nothing else at the time (1987) and still sounds fresh to this day. For pete's sake, it's a major label pop-rock song prominently featuring an accordian - non-ironically! (This video is nicely odd, as well - check out some of Dalbello's facial expressions. Drama, anyone?)

No, I didn't learn Chilliwack from MM; they're from 1981, or at least their sole US hit "My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)" is. It's a blissful slice of anonymous studio-pop, cf. Steel Breeze and their early '80s ilk, only with much poofier proto-mullets (I attribute that to Canada solely). I've never heard another note by them, and I don't care a whit. Why ruin with the memory of one lovely, mawkish single?

My favorite Bryan Adams record is neither Reckless (okay, but very hit-or-miss) nor Waking Up the Neighbors (vile schlock focus-grouped for women 25-49), but his 1987 (relative) flop Into the Fire, all atmospherics and downbeat moods, kind of like a much glossier take on the same year's Springsteen opus, Tunnel of Love. Today, it almost comes off as a self-sabotaging move in direct opposition to the endless hits of Reckless. (I don't think one as ambitious as Adams would ever actually attempt self-sabotage; I'm just saying.) "Victim of Love" is its apex: "Table for one and a broken heart to go"? This is one delicious cold stare of a single.

I can't resist: Rush it is. "Distant Early Warning" blew my mind at age 13, and I'll argue it still holds up, as does the entirety of the heavy-concept Grace Under Pressure. There's no one quite like Canada's most major power trio.

what about Neil Young's Trans?
This isn't a definitive list.
This comment has been removed by the author.
"Victim of Love" is def a better single than "Heat of the Night,"I'm pretty sure he left it off of So Far So Good though, for some reason...

I'd have to put Bryan Adams higher that Rush on my list, something about that band always just bothered me. Too prog for me, i guess.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?