July 1st is Canada Day. It’s a day Canadians don’t work, Canadians in London flock to Trafalgar square and a lot of beer is consumed. Last year I had the pleasure of picking 5 Canadian songs to help Spoonfed help celebrate Canada Day and it was dead hard to pick just 5 so I asked if I could do it again this year. I’d like to do it annually because our big/little country has so much varied music I just want to share it with the world. So here’s my picks for essential Canadian listening to celebrate Canada Day 2012.
Platinum Blonde – Doesn’t Really Matter
When describing Platinum Blonde to non-Canadians I always say “Canada’s Duran Duran” but the group has more to them then big feathered hair, amazing bass lines and 80s fashion. They actually started out as a Police tribute band and then somehow made a 6-song EP and signed to CBS Records Canada and “Doesn’t Really Matter” was their first single in 1983 and it became the fastest selling debut by a Canadian artist in the label’s history at the time, peaking at #39 on the Canadian album charts (according to wikipedia). They released 3 albums in the 80s and were HUGE in Canada with teenage girls screaming for singer Mark Holmes (who is in fact originally from Mansfield, England). Then they disappeared til the late 90s/early 2000s when they returned. This is when I first met Mark Holmes on a 2002 Greatest Hits tour across Canada – I got to interview him and he was decked out in Fred Perry, skinny trousers, bowling shoes and had a full on mod hair cut. He had transformed from the blonde 80s pop star and was obsessed with mods. He even ran a night called the Mod Club in Toronto (which I ended up being a regular at and got to hang with him quite a bit – I’m still Facebook friends with him haha) and now owns a venue called the Mod Club Theatre and is still DJing and running nights there to the present day. The band has recorded a new album and is still currently touring. Oh and Crystal Castles covered their song “Not in Love” with Robert Smith a couple years back but I think only Canadians know that it’s a cover.
The Ugly Ducklings – Gaslight
I always say Canada has a rich 60s rock n roll history just not too many people have heard of our bands. Well here’s a great example of another great Canadian 60s number. This is one of my favourite garage rock songs of all time. The passion in Dave Bingham’s voice still makes me emotional every time I hear it. I just start screaming “Gaaaasss light” along whenever it comes on the stereo. The Ugly Ducklings were active in the mid-60s and hailed from Toronto. Gaslight was their one and only Top 40 hit.
Slow – Have Not Been The Same
If you read the description blurb of this video on youtube it credits Vancouver’s Slow for inventing grunge. I don’t know how true that is but it’s highly possible. I completely believe the story that they wore plaid before anyone in Seattle as this video is from 1986 and they look pretty grunge. The band was also surrounded by controversy that year as they were the first band to play the local stage at Expo 86 and they stripped down and mooned the crowd during their set. The Expo officials cut the power while they were on stage, the police detained them and there was a mini protest outside a TV station. Getting worried Expo officials decided to cancel the rest of the local band programming. This story has gone down as legend in the Vancouver music scene. I was only 5 at Expo 86 but the first time I met lead singer Thomas Anselmi I asked him about it. Anselmi also went to the same high school as me (10 years before me of course) and is probably the second most famous person from my school after Joshua Jackson (Mighty Ducks / Dawson’s Creek). That’s how small Vancouver is !
Snow – Informer
I know this isn’t a “cool” choice but this is an essential song to anyone who grew up in the 90s. Some of my earliest memories of school is hanging round the basket ball courts watching the “cool kids” playing basket ball with this blasting from a ghetto blaster on repeat. You can’t deny it’s catchy and it was huge worldwide not just in Canada. And how many other countries can boast a worldwide number 1 selling white reggae artist? Probably none. It’s just another example of Canada’s multiculturalism actually working (insert patriotic comment here).
Loverboy – Working For the Weekend
This is one of my karaoke classics (I love singing the chorus! “Let’s gooooo!”). Another huge 80s stadium band but Loverboy had huge hits in America selling millions of albums worldwide. This is probably their most popular song. But this video is ridiculous – check out the lip syncing, it’s terrible! And those red leather trousers. Mmmm. Hee hee. I was at a gig once and my friend recognised the drummer from Loverboy and me being slightly tipsy decided to go up to him and say “hey ! Are you the drummer from Loverboy?” He was so stoked I recognised him he then proceeded to flirt with me. That was pretty funny – he must have thought I was a mega fan. Oh also Loverboy is from Alberta but moved to Vancouver and became huge, not unlike another terrible Canadian band which starts with the letter “N” and ends with “back”. Please stop moving from Alberta to Vancouver. Just stay there and remain anonymous for the greater good.