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Loverboy Takes Care of Some Unfinished Business

LoverboyBursting onto the scene in 1980, Loverboy was one of our most successful bands of the decade. Like Genesis, Van Halen, Foreigner, and other progressive acts, they combined spicy analogue synthesizers with hard electric guitars resulting in a thrilling and dynamic sound. Timeless anthem “Turn Me Loose” topped the charts in Vancouver, made the Top 10 in Toronto, and won the JUNO award for Song of the Year. Reaching multiplatinum status at home, the band’s first three albums sold millions globally. Loverboy scored a slew of hits, JUNO awards, and an induction into the Music Hall of Fame came in 2009. On a side note, frontman Mike Reno teamed with Heart’s Ann Wilson for the Footloose soundtrack in 1984 to land the #3 hit “Almost Paradise”.

Loverboy-Unfinished-Business-coverUnfinished Business is the group’s first album of fully new material in seven years. Rather than cater its sound to current trends, Loverboy sticks to its classic vibe. The album brings together songs written throughout the band’s career. “Come Undone” was apparently written 40 years ago. Despite being composed in various decades and recorded at different locations, the process of finishing off the unfinished works and the modern production quality yield great cohesion among the tracks. This is anything but a scrapbook but a solid, professional table book that can rightfully join the top echelon of Loverboy albums. iTunes

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2014 in 2014 Albums, Albums

 

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“Tears Are Not Enough” by Northern Lights

Notable Canadian band manager Bruce Allen organized a project to record a charity single for African famine relief in response to Britain’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” Jim Vallance in an interview told the story of how things came together in writing and recording the song “Tears Are Not Enough” sung by a supergroup of Canadian artists called Northern Lights.

…in 1985, David [Foster] returned to Vancouver for a year. He and his wife Rebecca bought a house in the same neighbourhood where Bryan Adams and I lived, but we didn’t see much of them. One day I ran into David in the lobby of Little Mountain Sound Studio, where he was producing an album for Paul Hyde and Bob Rock’s group, The Payolas. He approached me in a panic and said, “You have a home studio, right?” I replied that I did.

Visibly excited, David told me he’d just got off the phone with Quincy Jones, who’d just finished recording a Michael Jackson / Lionel Ritchie song for African famine relief called “We Are The World”. Quincy played the song for David over the phone, and said he wanted David to record a Canadian song for Africa — and it had to be finished in the next week or two so it could be included on the U.S. album release!

“We Are The World” was written in response to Bob Geldoff’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, recorded and released the year before (1984). Geldoff’s song raised millions of dollars for Africa, and had already made a significant difference to those suffering from drought and famine. Quincy hoped that a Canadian song might help make a difference too.

David already had a melody, borrowed from a song he’d been working on, and he had a title, “Tears Are Not Enough”, which had been provided by Paul Hyde and Bob Rock. It was nearly twenty years later (2004) when I finally heard the story behind the “title”:

Paul and Bob had been in the studio with Foster on the day that Quincy Jones called. Several weeks earlier they’d written a song called “Tears Are Not Enough”, and after the call from Quincy they played their song for David, thinking it might be suitable for the Famine Relief recording. “So, what do you think?” they asked, when they’d finished presenting the song. “Nice title”, David replied.

The next morning (Friday, February 1, 1985) David arrived at my home studio. He played me his melody on the piano. It was a pretty ballad with an interesting, circular chord progression. He also mentioned Paul and Bob’s title, “Tears Are Not Enough”, which I thought was excellent.

With the melody and the title we had enough to get started, so began recording the track right away. Using his Emulator synthesizer David laid down a piano, followed by a Moog bass, then a bell sound. I added drums and percussion. An hour or two later we had a “basic track” (it was only intended to be a quick “demo” recording, but it worked so well we ended up using it for the final recording).

Then we started working on the lyrics:
We can close the distance
Only we can make the difference
Don’t you know that tears are not enough

It was a good start, but David had to rush away for a session with The Payolas, promising to return the following day. I continued work on the lyrics while my wife Rachel [Paiement] wrote a few lines in French — after all, it was a Canadian song for Africa!

The next day Bryan Adams arrived from Los Angeles and hurried over to help. He looked at the lyrics I’d written so far and immediately suggested an improvement. “How about ‘we can BRIDGE the distance’?”, he said. It was perfect, and with that we were off and running.

We finished the lyric later that evening, then Bryan and Rachel recorded the vocals. The demo was completed at 4:00 a.m. the next morning.

Meanwhile, David enlisted Bryan’s manager Bruce Allen to help assemble a roster of performers. Bruce was well-connected in the music industry, and in quick succession Joni Mitchell and Neil Young agreed to participate. Then Kim Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot. Burton Cummings came on board, and so did Geddy Lee and Corey Hart.

Comedians John Candy and Catherine O’Hara offered their services, along with legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson and David Letterman sidekick Paul Shaffer. Dan Hill, Jane Sibbery, Sylvia Tyson, Robert Charlebois … the list of participants grew by the hour.

I suggested we record the vocals at Manta Studios [in Toronto], where I’d recorded Bryan Adams’ first album (and also Barney Bentall, Lisa Dal Bello and Cano). The room was big enough to accommodate a large group, and I also knew that veteran engineer Hayward Parrott could handle the complex task of recording 30 soloists … plus a chorus of 50!

Michael Godin (A&M Records) contacted Manta owner Andy Hermant, who generously donated the studio. On Saturday (February 9, 1985) we flew to Toronto to prepare for the mammoth recording session planned for the following day.

During the flight we reviewed the lyric sheet and the list of artists and determined who would sing which line. We decided the song should begin with Canadian legend Gordon Lightfoot (“As everyday goes by …”), then move to Burton Cummings (“How can we close our eyes …”), then to Anne Murray, Joni Mitchell, and so on.

The session took place on Sunday, February 10, 1985. It was a bitter cold day, but hundreds of fans gathered outside Manta to watch the “stars” arrive. Gordon Lightfoot drove himself to the studio in a pick-up truck. Neil Young and Joni Mitchell arrived by taxi. Platinum Blonde arrived in a white stretch limo.

Just as Quincy Jones had done in Los Angeles, Foster taped a poster in the studio lobby that said, “Leave your egos at the door”. Everyone gave 200 percent, and at the end of the day we had the makings of a magical record.

One of the funniest moments happened during Neil Young’s performance. He’d sung his line once or twice already, but Foster still wasn’t happy and asked Neil to try again. When Neil asked why, David told him he was out of tune. “That’s my style, man”, Neil shot back.

For me, one of the highlights was sitting on the studio floor a few feet from Joni Mitchell while she carved graceful lines in the air with her hands as she sang. Another special moment was meeting Richard Manuel, singer and pianist for “The Band”. In fact, Joni Mitchell and “The Band” are two of my biggest musical influences. I was in “fan heaven”, meeting them and hearing them sing lyrics I’d written!

After completing the vocal session in Toronto, David and I returned to Vancouver and booked time at Pinewood Studios and Little Mountain Sound where more instruments were added to the track, including Loverboy’s Doug Johnson and Paul Dean, who contributed keyboards and guitar. Steven Denroche, a member of the Vancouver Symphony, was called in to play French Horn…

One important Canadian artist unable to attend the Toronto recording session was Bruce Cockburn, who was performing in Germany at the time. Cockburn ‘s manager, Bernie Finkelstein, wondered if there wasn’t a way Bruce could record his vocal at a studio in Germany and have it edited into the finished product at a later date. It was a nice idea, but to meet our deadline Bruce’s contribution would have to be filmed and recorded sometime in the next 48 hours. In a moment of weakness I volunteered to fly to Germany!

The good news is, Air Canada provided a free ticket. The bad news is, there were no direct fights — so I had to fly from Vancouver to Toronto, Toronto to London, London to Frankfurt, and Frankfurt to Hamburg … a 44-hour round-trip. I arrived in Hamburg just in time to catch Bruce’s performance at a club on Tuesday evening. I met him backstage, for the first time, after the show.

I’d brought a cassette tape of the song, which Bruce hadn’t heard yet. But before I could even play the tape, Bruce dropped a bomb. He said he hadn’t yet decided if he wanted to participate in the project!

Bernie had neglected to tell me that Bruce hadn’t made up his mind yet — and I’d just spent 22 hours on a #$&@ airplane! In my sleep-deprived, jet-lagged stupor my first reaction was to reach across the table and grab Bruce by the throat with both hands. Instead, I used every ounce of diplomacy I could muster. I told Bruce how magical the session in Toronto had been … how it was truly a special project, and that everyone was looking forward to his involvement, which was true!

Bruce eventually came around, and he agreed to meet me at a Hamburg recording studio the following morning. It took less than an hour to complete Bruce’s audio and video recording, then it was back to the airport for the 22-hour return flight to Vancouver (via Frankfurt, London and Toronto).

I met one of the film people at the airport in Toronto during my two-hour lay-over, and I handed him the Cockburn footage to edit into the video. After spending a much-needed night in my own bed in Vancouver, I flew to Los Angeles the next morning to deliver Bruce’s audio track. Foster and his assistant Chris Earthy met me at the airport, and we rushed over to Kenny Roger’s “Lion’s Share” studio where Cockburn’s vocal was edited into the audio mix that engineer Humberto Gatica had nearly completed.

“Tears Are Not Enough” reached #1 on the Canadian charts and helped raise more than $3-million for African Famine Relief.

Lyrics and Vocalists

As every day goes by, how can we close our eyes (Gordon Lightfoot)
Until we open up our hearts (Burton Cummings)

We can learn to share and show how much we care (Anne Murray)
Right from the moment that we start (Joni Mitchell)

Seems like overnight, we see the world in a different light (Dan Hill)
Somehow our innocence is lost (Neil Young)

How can we look away, ’cause every single day (Bryan Adams)
We’ve got to help at any cost (Liberty Silver and Loverboy’s Mike Reno)

Chorus (sung by the nine singers above):

We can bridge the distance
Only we can make the difference
Don’t ya know that tears are not enough

If we can pull together
We could change the world forever
Heaven knows that tears are not enough

It’s up to me and you to make the dream come true (Carroll Baker, Ronnie Hawkins, and Murray McLauchlan)
It’s time to take our message everywhere (Corey Hart)

C’est l’amour qui nous rassemble
d’ici a l’autre bout du monde (Véronique Béliveau, Robert Charlebois, and Claude Dubois)

Let’s show them Canada still cares (Bruce Cockburn)
You know that we’ll be there (Rush’s Geddy Lee)

(Chorus – all 18 singers above)

And if we could try (Bryan Adams and Don Gerrard)
Together you and I (All 44 Singers)
Maybe we could understand the reasons why (Zappacosta and Dalbello)
If we take a stand (Rough Trade’s Carole Pope and The Payola$ Paul Hyde)
Every woman, child and man (Salome Bey, Platinum Blonde’s Mark Holmes, and The Parachute Club’s Lorraine Segato)
We can make it work for God’s sake lend a hand (Loverboy’s Mike Reno)

(Chorus – all the above singers plus Paul Anka, Liona Boyd, actor John Candy, Tom Cochrane, Tommy Hunter, Martha Johnson (M+M), actor Eugene Levy, pop pianist Frank Mills, Kim Mitchell, jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, David Letterman sidekick Paul Shaffer, Jane Siberry, Sylvia Tyson (Ian & Sylvia), dj Barry Harris, actress Catherine O’Hara, and Wayne St. John)

The “Tears Are Not Enough” project was one of the finest moments in Canadian music history.

Les Yeux de la Faim

It didn’t receive much attention outside of Quebec but Francophone artists banded together to record an additional charity single for African famine relief. Celine Dion, Rene & Nathalie Simard and others lent their voices to the beautiful “Les Yeux de la Faim“.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2011 in 1980s, Classic Songs, Songs

 

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Canadian Pride (1985-86)

In the two years following 1984’s dry spell, a total of 50 songs from Canadian artists made the weekly Top 30 National RPM Singles Chart. 1985 was the year that changed everything. Fifteen Canadian artists had Top 30 hits through the year. There were 14 Canadian songs in the year-end Top 100, and the biggest song of the year was Canadian. The year saw three Canadian songs top the charts. And it was the year that witnessed the very first Canadian album certified Diamond. Perhaps the highlight was the coming together of all major Canadian artists to record a charity single for African famine relief. Although the whirlwind that created a swelling of Canadian pride eased up a bit in 1986, it was still a strong year for Canadian music. The RPM Top 100 Year-End Album Charts saw 11 from Canadian artists in 1985 and a dozen in 1986.

1985

At the end of October, 1984, Bryan Adams released his album Reckless and its first single “Run to You”. For some reason, it took some time for the song to climb up the charts, finally cracking the Top 10 on January 12th, 1985. From there, everything snowballed. The album which spawned several additional hits became certified Diamond (1 million copies sold in a country of nearly 26 million at the time) on December 17th. But that wasn’t the only big album that year. Corey Hart released Boy in the Box in mid-June. “Never Surrender” topped the charts and became the biggest song of the year. “Everything in My Heart” was a #1 hit as well (in 1986). And the album became the second in history to attain Diamond sales. Canadian pride soared and the Junos the following year drew a huge audience to see “Never Surrender” win Song of the Year and Reckless win Best Album. Adams and Hart had become national treasures and were the musical heroes that captivated the hearts of the nation.

Canadian artists responded to Bob Geldof’s work with uniting British artists to record “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” to help relieve drought-ridden famine in Ethiopia. They came together as Northern Lights and recorded “Tears Are Not Enough”, another number one single in Canada. We’ll do a special feature on the song in a bit.

Bryan Adams and Corey Hart were not the only names in male singers that year. Scottish-born Torontonian (Lawrence) Gowan scored a #5 hit with “Criminal Mind” from his Strange Animal album (which matched the peak chart position on the album charts). Claude Dubois had a big hit with “Un Chanteur Chant“. Gino Vannelli’s “Black Cars” landed in the Top 5 and his “Huts to Be in Love” the Top 20. Composer and producer David Foster worked heavily on the St. Elmo’s Fire film and his instrumental Love Theme was a Top 10 hit. Paul Janz had his first hit, “Go to Pieces” (#29).

Outside of La Belle Province, the women were nowhere to be heard in ’85, aside from more alternative artists like the creative Jane Siberry (“One More Colour”). Luba made some headways but became a bigger name the following year. The most successful female was Martine St. Clair with her mega-hit “Ce soir l’amour est dans tes yeux”, song of the year winner at the Felix Awards and so irresistible that it was even nominated for a Juno, despite their reputation for snubbing French language music. Nicole Martin’s “Il est en nous l’amour” was nominated for a Felix.

1985 saw the emergence of some huge rock bands, the most notable of which was Platinum Blonde. “Crying over You” was a #1 hit as was their album Alien Shores. Their “Situation Critical” made the Top 10. Vancouver new wave outfit “Strange Advance” scored a minor hit as did Paul Hyde and the Payola$ and newcomers Honeymoon Suite. The latter did better with album sales than hit singles, but nevertheless, scored a Top 10 hit in 1988 with “Love Changes Everything”. Loverboy had a Top 20 hit with “Lovin’ Every Minute of It” and one-hit wonders Idle Eyes with “Tokyo Rose”, but the Parachute Club’s “At the Feet of the Moon” was the most successful, coming just shy of the Top 10. Offenbach and Madame had hits in Québec.

1986

Corey Hart was quick to follow up his Diamond album with Fields of Fire in 1986. The first single “I Am by Your Side” peaked at #12 on the RPM charts, while his cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” topped the charts in early ’87. The year, however, belonged to Glass Tiger. Their “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)” was a number one hit, the 4th biggest of the year and nabbed the Juno Award for Song of the Year. Their 4x Platinum album The Thin Red Line churned out three more hits, all of which broke into the Top 20. A third release came off of Platinum Blonde’s Alien Shores album which was a good thing because it became their only hit south of the border. The song was “Somebody Somewhere”. Honeymoon Suite released a new album—The Big Prize—which spawned two hits that did equally well. The Parachute Club and M+M scored minor hits with “Love Is Fire” and “Song in my Head” respectively. Loverboy’s song “Heaven in your Eyes”, from the Top Gun soundtrack, did moderately well.

There were some newcomers in 1986. Ottawa duo One to One scored a pair of hits from their Forward Your Emotions album. Springing from Talent Quest, Cats Can Fly’s synth-pop “Flippin’ to the ‘A’ Side” peaked at #16. Another synth ensemble—Chalk Circle—came out with “April Fool” that just squeaked into the Top 100 songs of the year. PEI’s Haywire scored with “Bad Bad Boy” and The Partland Brothers (Chris and G.P.) with “Soul City”. Nuance’s “Vivre dans la nuit” sold 70,000 copies and was nominated for Song of the Year at the Junos. Perhaps the most significant addition to 80s bands was Men Without Hats’ new wave spinoff band The Box (“L’affaire Dumoutier”).

Anne Murray crossed over into pop/rock with a comeback hit – “Now and Forever (You and Me)” and Luba became a household name with “How Many (Rivers to Cross)”. Jano Bergeron’s “Recherche” was nominated for a Felix Award. Having departed the band Corbeau, lead singer Marjo embarked on a very successful solo career and won the Félix Song of the Year with “Chats sauvages”. David Foster teamed up with English-Australian diva Olivia Newton-John in “The Best of Me”.

Je voudrais voir New York” was a hit for Daniel Lavoie. Patrick Norman had a stellar year thanks to “Quand on est en amour”. Max Webster’s lead singer Kim Mitchell scored a hit as a soloist called “Patio Lanterns”. And Red Rider’s front man began veering away from the group to lead an even more successful solo career; Tom Cochrane scored a minor hit with “Boy Inside the Man”.

Forthcoming will be a list of Canadian hit singles and albums on the RPM charts in 1985-86; an entry with mini-profiles on semi-major acts The Box, Paul Janz, Haywire, Honeymoon Suite, Luba, Kim Mitchell, Patrick Norman, and Platinum Blonde; a special feature on the making of the “Tears Are Not Enough” charity single; and separate feature profiles on major artists David Foster, Glass Tiger, Gowan, and Marjo.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2011 in 1980s, Period Summaries

 

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Loverboy

Debut: 1980, Vancouver
Years Most Active: 1980-1987

Primary Members:

Mike Reno (lead vocals)
Matthew Frenette (drums)
Scott Smith (bass)
Paul Dean (guitars, vocals)
Doug Johnson (keys)

Genre: Rock

Biggest Hit:

Turn Me Loose” (1981)

- Juno Award in 1982 for Song of the Year
- #28 on CHUM FM’s Year-End Chart (1981)

Top 40 Hits:

- “The Kid Is Hot Tonite”, 1981
- “Working for the Weekend”, 1981
- “When It’s Over”, 1982
- “Hot Girls in Love”, 1983
- “Queen of the Broken Hearts”, 1983
- “Lovin’ Every Minute of It”, 1985
- “Heaven in Your Eyes”, 1986
- “Notorious”, 1987

Loverboy-Related Hit:

Almost Paradise“, Mike Reno and Ann Wilson of Heart (1984)

- #1 Hit
- Featured in the film Footloose

Studio Albums:

1980: Loverboy, 5x Platinum, Juno Award in 1982 for Album of the Year
1981: Get Lucky, 3x Platinum, Juno Award in 1983 for Album of the Year
1983: Keep It Up, 2x Platinum
1985: Lovin’ Every Minute of It
1987: Wildside

Achievements:

- 9 Top 40 Singles
- 3 Multi-Platinum albums
- Juno Award for Best Group for 3 consecutive years (1982-84)
- Sold 10 million copies of their first 3 albums by 1984
- Inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (2009) 

After he was kicked out of Streetheart, Vancouver guitarist Paul Dean wanted to form his own band. His agent introduced him to Mike Rynoski (later Reno). Although he was a drummer, Dean liked his singing and the two began writing songs together. They recruited classically-trained keyboardist Doug Johnson, DalBello bassist Scott Smith, and ex-Streetheart drummer Matthew Frenette. The quintet was formed and introduced through a mutual friend to manager Bruce Allen. This led to their opening for Kiss at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver in 1979.

In 1980, the band released its debut, self-titled album, and scored hits with the slickly produced (Bruce Fairbairn) and masterfully engineered (Bob Rock) singles “Turn Me Loose” and “The Kid Is Hot Tonite”. The former topped the charts in Vancouver, cracked the Top 10 in Toronto and was an even bigger hit in Australia and New Zealand than in Canada. It was awarded Song of the Year at the 1982 Juno Awards. The album was certified platinum in both Canada and the U.S. and won the Juno for album of the year. It was to eventually go 5x Platinum in Canada.

Loverboy’s second album, Get Lucky, did slightly better in the U.S. than in Canada and spawned the hits “Working for the Weekend” (Peak: #10) and “When It’s Over” (Peak: #18). Aside from the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, Loverboy was ignored internationally. They attempted to change this by performing on TV variety shows and engaging in tours of Europe and Japan, but all to no avail.

Keep It Up, the band’s third album (1983), bolstered by the hits “Hot Girls in Love” and “Queen of the Broken Hearts”, was certified double platinum in both Canada and the U.S. The band began touring with the some of the biggest names in the business: Bob Seger, Cheap Trick, Prism, Foreigner, ZZ Top, and Journey.

In 1984 Reno recorded “Almost Paradise” with Ann Wilson of Heart for the film Footloose. It was a #1 hit.

Fairbairn began work with Bon Jovi and Loverboy opted for Tom Allom of Judas Priest to produce their fourth album, Lovin’ Every Minute of It. The new harder sound did not sit as well with the public as their previous efforts, and Loverboy’s fortunes began to slip. In 1986, the band contributed the song “Heaven in Your Eyes” to the Top Gun soundtrack. The following year, with the return of Fairbairn, they released the uninspired Wildside album, which just managed to go gold. It was settled by band members that they had run out of steam and decided to part ways.

Mike Reno and Paul Dean recorded solo projects. Matthew Frenette joined forced with Tom Cochrane. Scott Smith became a dee-jay for CFOX FM 99 in Vancouver and became a booking agent for the Sam Feldman Agency. Doug Johnson began writing for TV and radio soundtracks. In 2000, bassist Scott Smith was swept overboard from a large wave during a ride on his boat along the California coast. His body was never located despite extensive searches by the U.S. Coast Guard; he was presumed drowned.

In 2009, Loverboy was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2011 in 1980s, Artists, Superstars

 

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New Wave and Electronic Rock (1980-84)

In the early 80s, dance music became less popular in the English-speaking world. It was to be reborn several years later. Punk rock whose appeal was confined for the most part to the United Kingdom morphed into new wave. The synthesizer, Bob Moog’s 1963 invention, had made appearances in rock throughout the 70s, but a number of British artists began experimenting with using the synthesizer as the lead and sometimes only instrument. This new electronic rock helped spawn a second British Invasion. Arguably, with acts like Images in Vogue, Strange Advance, Rational Youth, Blue Peter, Moev, The Spoons, and Rough Trade, Canada was more keen on developing synthesizer-driven pop than the United States. The most popular new wave act was perhaps Vancouver-based The Payola$.

With the new styles in music, radio was friendlier to some artists than to others. The so-called underground music scene became exceptionally popular as did college radio which picked up the slack. In order to help promote and recognize more experimental music, the CASBY awards were established in 1981 to honour excellence in independent or “alternative” music and artists.

Guitar-oriented new wave group Corbeau was somewhat successful in Québec. When it disbanded in 1984, female singer Marjo embarked on a solo career. Québec never grew tired of dance music. With the new interest in synthesizers, electronics were added to the genre care of acts like Trans X and the hugely successful Men Without Hats. English Canada experimented with dancier new wave and came up with male/female combo outfits like The Parachute Club and Martha and the Muffins, which later became known as M+M.

After new wave, the second most popular genre in the early 80s, which did not receive as much radio airplay, was heavy metal. A few artists in Canada dabbled in this, like Helix, Toronto, and Chilliwack spin-off The Headpins, and some combined electronics with hard rock, like Aldo Nova and supergroup Loverboy.

Curiously, a backlash against this new-fangled music emerged in parallel. A number of groups performing more traditional blues rose to prominence, the most notable of which were The Powder Blues Band, Doug and the Slugs, and a cappella group The Nylons. Medicine Hat (Alberta) risqué country band Showdown debuted in 1980 and Montréal fusion-jazz outfit UZEB in 1981. Scottish import Eric Robertson, a composer, pianist and organist scored a multi-platinum album entitled Magic Melodies.

A number of acts did not deviate from straight-forward pop: The Kings, Teenage Head, Straight Lines, Sheriff, and Red Rider (whom we’ll feature later in conjunction with front man Tom Cochrane’s solo career). But it was primarily the solo artists who performed mainstream pop and a few of them were to become the biggest names in Canadian music history.

Diane Tell (who also performed with aforementioned UZEB), Véronique Béliveau, and Martine Saint-Clair made headways in French Canada. René‘s little sister Nathalie Simard became a child star in the early 80s. In 1983, Céline Dion emerged and blew everyone in the province away. We’ll talk about her later when she achieved international superstardom.

In English Canada, debuts from women were notably absent during this period. For the men, however, it was a very different story. From Montréal, an English singer who liked to wear sunglasses at night released a sleeper hit album in 1983. No one knew just how popular he was to become by the middle of the decade. His name was Corey Hart. An ex-Sweeney Todd Vancouverite singer got some attention with his “Let Me Take You Dancing” in 1979. But, frustrated with his lack of big success, he teamed up with songwriter Jim Vallance, changed his singing style from smooth to gravelly, and released Cuts Like a Knife in early 1983. For Bryan Adams all hell broke loose, and he captivated the nation eventually becoming the most successful Canadian artist of all-time. The biggest male name in French songs was perhaps Manitoba-born Daniel Lavoie. Although he started out in the 70s, his popularity skyrocketed in the early 80s, and he garnered a few Félix Awards. In 1998, he teamed up with two other singers and released the third best-selling single of all time in France.

The best-selling albums during the period were those from Anne Murray, Loverboy, Ginette Reno, and the aforementioned Eric Robertson. Another big-seller was the novelty comedy record Bob & Doug McKenzie‘s Great White North responsible for a couple of hit songs, including the Geddy Lee (Rush) led “Take Off”.

It is also worth noting that, outside of Québec, which had a very productive year, significant Canadian music was practically non-existent in 1984. Sherry Kean scored a Top 20 hit with “I Want You Back” and Italy-born Zappacosta became known in some circles with his debut release. But no Canadian song made the weekly Top 10 in the RPM charts throughout the entire year. Furthermore, no Canadian song made the year-end CHUM chart, and the Juno Awards were delayed. What happened in 1985, however, was to more than make up for it.

With the ever-increasing popularity of music videos, Canada launched a national channel called MuchMusic at the end of August in 1984. Although criticized for focussing too much on music from and that appealed to Torontonians (where the station was based), and showcasing too much American-style black and Spanish music, it enabled a number of Canadian artists to gain exposure and make breakthroughs. Two years later, a French language version was aired called MusiquePlus.

MuchMusic was also criticized for airing too many movies, game and reality shows when most people tuned in to see the MVs. The channel responded to all the criticism by launching MuchMoreMusic in 1998 which played more MVs and music that appealed more to adult Canadians.

Eventually, MuchMusic replaced CBC’s Good Rockin’ Tonite which was broadcast from Vancouver.

Coming up, we’ll provide a list of significant Canadian songs in the early 80s, followed by a special feature on Bob & Doug McKenzie’s The Great White North album, and then mini-profiles on semi-major acts Martha and the Muffins, The Parachute Club, Martine St-Clair, and Toronto, and finally individual profiles on major artists Men Without Hats, The Payola$, Loverboy, Diane Tell, Véronique Béliveau, Corey Hart, Daniel Lavoie, and Bryan Adams.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2011 in 1980s, Period Summaries

 

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