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Rocky View Publishing reporter looks at Canadian rockers - past and present

By: Andrew Szekeres

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 10:43 am

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For my previous column with Rocky View Weekly on Canada Day, I began to look back on Canada’s rich rock history, from Neil Young to Leonard Cohen and Stompin’ Tom Connors. Now we continue from the 1970s to the ‘80s.

Still touring today, April Wine became a force in the 1970s for Canadian rock with 27 straight appearances on the Canadian singles charts between the 1970s and early 1980s, including Sign of the Gypsy Queen, Roller and Oowatanite.

Also beginning in the early 1970s was the creation of the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and the Canadian Content Law, which would mandate a bigger focus be placed on giving more exposure to Canadian artists in Canada.

This gave bands, such as Calgary-based The Stampeders a chance to succeed. With singles such as Sweet City Woman, Hit the Road Jack and Wild Eyes, the Stampeders became just that – successful.

Radio FM stations also became popular at the time allowing for rock bands to play songs longer than the standard three-minute length on AM.

Following this change, a radio station in Cleveland, Ohio played a seven-minute song named Working Man. The blue-collar song became popular fast, which would ignite the success of one of Canada’s most famed progressive rock bands, Rush.

Rush would go on to sell over 40 million albums worldwide in a career that spanned over 40 years. The band is third of all time, for most the consecutive gold or platinum albums sold in the United States, behind only the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Rush’s international success helped increase the popularity of Canadian rock to the world. Trooper’s Raise a Little Hell is still played in hockey arenas across the NHL after being released in 1978. Fellow Canadian progressive rock band Triumph would have 11 straight appearances on the US rock charts.

Randy Bachman, a former member of The Guess Who, would go on to form Bachman-Turner Overdrive and have international hits like, Let it Ride, Takin’ Care of Business and You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.

As the 1980s rolled in, so did the emergence of music videos. While Canada’s music channel, Much Music now struggles, it helped give many Canadian artists television exposure.

Go to YouTube and look-up The Safety Dance, by Men Without Hats, Crying over You, by Platinum Blond, Rock You, by Helix and Loving Every Minute of it, by Loverboy, My Girl by Chilliwack and you will be transformed back into the 1980s. You’ll find videos full of mop hair, men with make-up, and a weird Tolkien-esque universe about safety and of course the jheri curl.

There was also now the popularization of more mainstream heavy metal with bands like Voivod and Anvil.

Voivod helped popularize progressive metal and influence artists such as Foo Fighters founder and Nirvana member, Dave Grohl.

Anvil and its quicker, thrash-metal vibe helped influence bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax.

It wouldn’t be a discussion about 1980s Canadian rock if Bryan Adams and Red Rider weren’t mentioned. Red Rider and its front man, Tom Cochrane could be thinly described as a cross between Pink Floyd and Rod Stewart with a little country rock just for fun – just listen to Lunatic Fringe and Life is a Highway.

Bryan Adams on the other hand became the best-selling Canadian rock act of all time with over 100 million records sold. Adams had many hits, including Summer of ’69. The song was written on different nostalgia of 1969 and as Adams has said, alludes to something more promiscuous.

Stay tuned for the final part of a look at Canadian rock.


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